Violent Crimes Down in Virginia… If You Can Believe the Numbers

by James A. Bacon

The incidence of violent crime increased 1.2% nationally in 2012 over the previous year, according to the latest Department of Justice Uniform Crime Report, but declined somewhat in Virginia’s most populous cities, as seen in the chart above. That appears to be good news, at least for Virginia.

Sadly, questions are arising as to the legitimacy of the national numbers, which are only as good as the numbers provided by local law enforcement authorities. Driven by political considerations, police departments in some localities may be under-reporting violent crimes. Just to pick a couple of examples that I stumbled across in the last month or so:

The Titan of Trinidad, a Washington, D.C., blog reports:

Last week, we reported on the violent assault on the Metropolitan Branch Trail, in which a mob of 15 persons attacked a bicyclist without provocation, beating him so severely that his eye was swollen shut.   Over the next two days, we also noticed this crime went unmentioned in MPD’s public crime reports and online crime map, and wondered why. … Shockingly, not only does the DC Metropolitan Police freely admit hiding a significant number of crime statistics from the public, but double-down on that position by saying they do so for our own own good.

Then comes Jack Cashill, a writer with the conservative WND website, writing about the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. While the media has focused on murder trial, Cashill draws attention to the manipulation of crime data by the Mount Carmel Police Department that under-played Martin’s run-ins with the law.

On Feb. 15, 2012, 11 days before Martin’s death, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools put out a press release boasting of a 60 percent decline in school-based arrests, the largest decline by far in the state. … [Mount Carmel Police Chief Charles] Hurley’s detectives, all of them veterans with excellent records, told a different story under oath when questioned by Internal Affairs. …

“Oh, God, oh, my God, oh, God,” one major reportedly said when first looking at Martin’s data. He realized that Martin had been suspended twice already that school year for offenses that should have gotten him arrested – once for getting caught with a burglary tool and a dozen items of female jewelry, the second time for getting caught with marijuana and a marijuana pipe.

In each case, the case file on Martin was fudged to make the crime less serious than it was. As one detective told IA, the arrest statistics coming out of Martin’s school, Michael Krop Senior, had been “quite high,” and the detectives “needed to find some way to lower the stats.” This directive allegedly came from Hurley.

“Chief Hurley, for the past year, has been telling his command staff to lower the arrest rates,” confirmed another high-ranking detective.

We live in an age in which lying and cheating are endemic, even among pillars of the establishment — from police officials to the Atlanta teachers on trial for fixing student test scores. There is intense political pressure to show progress in the fight against crime. Should we be surprised to find that some local police officials manipulate the data?

Here in Virginia, the City of Richmond has fired senior social services administrators for gross incompetence and negligence. A recent city review cited, among other failures, the lack of “a comprehensive records management system.” Would it shock anyone if they had cooked the numbers relating to child protective services?

If anyone knows of any instances regarding the mis-reporting of crime data in Virginia, please let me know.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


3 responses to “Violent Crimes Down in Virginia… If You Can Believe the Numbers”

  1. larryg Avatar

    When I see a chart like this – I’m struck MORE by the big differences for different places – and wonder why.

    It begs for more granularity like, for instance, other correlations, perhaps density – or number of police per population, etc.

    Then I’d also like to see crime stats for Smart Growth places as well as places like Tysons and Arlington…

    these stats, I would conjecture when translated to on-the-ground realties combined with school reputations heavily influence people and settlement patterns.

    crime is what drives people out no matter what other amenities are there.

  2. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    Trust in the US Government, federal and local, is evaporating.

    Citizens no longer assume or even expect that their elected and non elected government officials are telling them the truth. Rather more and more expect the big lie, that in fact more likely than not they are being lied to. Sadly, they have solid grounds to hold that belief, based on real life experience. Its a great tragedy. And I suspect the reasons for that tragedy are many and deep.

  3. larryg Avatar

    Trust in govt AND in both public and private institutions has deteriorated but the conventional wisdom that ALL of govt has gone downhill is not.

    Your NOAH and Weather satellites still fly and still give you weather forecasts an directions. The FDIC still protects your bank deposits. The NTSB still investigates accidents and still reveals important information about them. The TSA – as bad as it seems – has prevented the hijacking of US airliners. FEMA still comes when disasters happen and your drugs and food are largely (if not perfectly) safe and not harmful.

    What we are finding out is this: that govt is like society where you have all sorts from Mother Teresa to Bernie Madoff.

    Of course, we also have the other minor problem – our own perspectives – like those who think the EPA and OSHA have done well (but not perfect) while others take the half-full glass approach… the flaws are unacceptable – period.

    we’re sorta like kids growing up when we realize that Mom and Dad are human not the heroes we originally thought they were.

    but instead of being thankful that our country is not like Egypt or Syria and still remains the among the best, if not the best in the world – we’ve got ourselves into a baleful snit ……

    Even as we grump about it, we jump in our car and drive down a well maintained (not perfect) road – unlike folks in other countries that dodge giant potholes and others driving like wildmen.

    we jump on an airplane after being frisked by a TSA goon fully expecting NOT to be hijacked and to arrive at our destination intact and not met by a squad of automatic-weapon toting revolutionaries.

    When you flush your toilet, you do not expect it to empty into the street and when you turn on your faucet – you do not expect it to be unsafe.

    we take so much for granted that folks in other countries can not and do not and we complain incessantly about virtually everything these days.

    Elections are a good example of the good/bad/ugly aspect of America now days.

    No one can deny the enormous impact that elections now have on us – no matter who we support or oppose.

    Even though we still do not have a majority of eligible citizens actually voting – just looking back at the last two POTUS elections and now the GOV election in Va demonstrates an exceptionally alive and active Democracy (not perfect, never was, never will be).

    We DO VOTE and elections DO Have consequences – unlike some countries!

Leave a Reply