Crime-reporting irregularities by law enforcers that first came to light a year ago in Broward County, Fla., now appear to be more widespread, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The paper said the scandal has “exploded into one of the biggest investigations ever undertaken by the Broward State Attorney’s Public Corruption Unit.” Prosecutors are boring in on allegations that dozens of detectives and their supervisors wrote and approved official reports that they knew were false. Deputies are expected to face criminal charges.
The allegations center on abuse of “exceptionable clearances,” which allow law enforcers to designate a crime as solved and closed without an arrest. According to federal guidelines, those clearances are supposed to be used in limited circumstances when something beyond law enforcement’s control prevents officers from making an arrest, such as when a suspect dies or a victim refuses to cooperate. A Sun-Sentinel probe also found widespread practice of piling cases on suspects who were never charged; that some sheriff’s districts “banked” cases to boost their statistics in slow months and avoid drawing attention to improbably high clearances in a single month. The newspaper said Sheriff Ken Jenne’s statistics-driven accountability system put pressure on deputies to produce high crime-clearance numbers.