Even in a time of “budget belt-tightening,” the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics is expanding its data-gathering, says a top Justice Department official. BJS is adding data series on courthouse security, criminal appeals, private security, Internet predation and stalking, Jeffrey Sedgwick, assistant attorney general for justice programs, told the Justice Research and Statistics Association yesterday in Portland, Ore. BJS also is starting a census of law enforcement gang units and a project on human trafficking data in conjunction with Northeastern University and the Urban Instiute. Sedgwick headed BJS until his recent promotion by President Bush.
An expansion of BJS’ Deaths in Custody Reporting Progam will include information on deaths in facilities maintained by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Speaking about crime generally, Sedgwick said “crime rates have remained basically flat over the last several years.” Although some cities have reported rising crime rates, it would be a mistake to mischaracterize “small spikes” as “a gathering storm,” Sedgwick said. That remark seemingly was aimed at the Police Executive Research Forum, which in the fall of 2006 issued a crime report using the “gathering storm” title. PERF said its conclusions were based on its own survey of major cities and the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report for 2005, which the group said reflected “a significant increase in violent crime throughout the country.”