The Detroit Police Department is systematically undercounting homicides, leading to a falsely low murder rate in a city that regularly ranks among the nation’s deadliest, reports the Detroit News. The police incorrectly reclassified 22 of its 368 slayings last year as “justifiable” and did not report them as homicides to the FBI as required by federal guidelines. There were at least 59 such omissions over the past five years, according to incomplete records obtained from the police department through the Freedom of Information Act.
Also, records show Detroit police officers killed 10 civilians last year, a five-fold increase from 2007. That makes the Detroit department one of the nation’s most deadly even as it operates under federal supervision for the use of lethal force and the illegal detention of witnesses. Adjusting Detroit’s number to 368 homicides pushes the city’s rate to 40.7 per 100,000 residents, well ahead of Baltimore’s 36.9. It makes Detroit once again the murder capital of cities with more than 500,000 residents. “There is a lot of pressure out there to bring crime down,” Jon Shane, a professor of criminology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York and a former supervising officer of homicide with the Newark Police Department. “No mayor wants to be mayor of the murder capital. Precinct commanders are pushed to bring down crime. Those who do, get promoted. Those who don’t, languish.”