Dallas police have incorrectly reported crimes to the FBI for years, says the Dallas Morning News. Doing the math right may knock the city off its perch as the nation’s most crime-ridden major city. Police say they recently discovered they hadn’t been following FBI guidelines on reporting many property crimes such as theft or car burglaries. In some cases, the rules allow multiple crimes to be reported as a single criminal act. For example, cities can count break-ins that occur within minutes of one another and are thought to have been committed by the same burglar as one criminal act when reporting to the FBI. “They were reporting things that should have been considered one crime episode as multiple crimes,” said Robert Taylor, chairman of the criminal justice department at the University of North Texas.
Taylor believes data reported to the FBI often are inconsistent and that the bureau’s Uniform Crime Report should not be used to compare cities. For at least nine years, Dallas has had the highest crime rate among cities with more than 1 million residents. City officials have worried that the dubious distinction may have hampered economic development. The eureka moment for Dallas came as a result of a review of the department’s reporting practices, which Chief David Kunkle ordered last fall. Giving an example of how data should be reported correctly, an FBI spokesman said: “If the cars broken into were in close proximity in the parking lot, for instance within a space or two of each other, they likely would be scored as one offense of larceny-theft from a motor vehicle.”