Society

Chicago Police Didn't Report One Quarter of Assault and Battery Victims

| by Allison Geller

Chicago police underreported aggravated assault and battery in the city’s 2012 crime statistics by about a quarter, an audit found.

The city’s top watchdog found that the department didn’t follow state guidelines on crime statistics, leading to the grave underreporting, the Chicago Tribune notes. Police counted each aggravated assault or battery as one incident, when it should have counted each of the victims involved.

The police department said it had counted assaults and batteries in this way for years. That means that many nonfatal shootings and other violent incidents in Chicago have not been reported to the Illinois State Police and FBI.

The Chicago Tribune first reported on the misreporting in the summer of 2010, when it discovered that the police counted the number of distinct shooting incidents rather than the number of victims.

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The inspector general’s report didn’t find evidence that the errors were intentional. Victims had not been included in the crime reports of assault and battery in the sample that it took, leading to an underreporting of 24 percent. Department of Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy blamed his predecessor, Jody Weis, for failing to change the procedure.

“Upon learning of the reporting issue, CPD immediately launched an in-depth review of every single aggravated assault and aggravated battery that occurred during 2012 and 2013, to correct the tracking of these crimes and bring the city into stricter adherence with reporting standards,” the department said in a response printed in the inspector general's report. “This in-depth review is ongoing, and where errors in victim-level reporting exist, they will be corrected.”

Analyzing every shooting in the first six months of 2013, the Tribune found that there were more than 1,000 victims in the city, a far larger number than the one reported by the police department.

“Based on this report, a larger audit … would be called for,” said John Eterno, a criminal justice professor at Molloy College in New York, after reviewing the audit. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”

Sources: Chicago Tribune