Detroit Police Stand By Homicide Count: “We Decide”


The Detroit Police Department will not adjust its homicide count, despite a Detroit News report that the department has routinely underreported killings to the FBI. The News review of police and medical examiner records showed that 368 people were killed in Detroit last year, 29 more than police now report. “We stand by the number — 339,” said Second Deputy Chief Rod Liggons, the department’s spokesman. “We’re not saying that it’s a homicide when two people stab each other and further investigation shows a man was defending himself. So it was a homicide? Who says that?”

FBI guidelines state: “agencies must report the willful killing of one individual by another, not the criminal liability of the person or persons involved.” The police department reclassified 22 of its 368 slayings last year as “justifiable” or “self-defense” 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 department. “Who says the FBI decides?” Liggons said. “We decide. Because the FBI says it, doesn’t make it a homicide.” The department’s reaction left law enforcement officials and criminologists stunned. “I wish we would spend as much time being honest about the numbers as talking about the numbers. A homicide is a homicide is a homicide. It’s really not that hard,” said Kym Worthy, the Wayne County prosecutor. “In order to adequately deal with the crime problem we have to be honest about the reporting.”

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