A change in the way Los Angeles police count domestic violence incidents has allowed the department to substantially exaggerate how much crime has dropped citywide this year, reports the city’s Times. LAPD officials say they have issued disclaimers about the shift in its statistics on domestic violence, which was made to bring the Los Angeles Police Department into accord with federal guidelines. But the department has continued to distribute figures suggesting that overall violent crime has declined by 28% this year compared with last year. If the reporting change is taken into account, the actual decline is about one-third as large.
The statistics problem emerged when the department narrowed its definition of aggravated assaults at the beginning of 2005 to exclude the least serious domestic violence assaults known as “simple” child/spousal assaults. Police Chief William J. Bratton announced the change earlier this year. In addition, the department indicates in its crime statistics reports that it cannot compare this year’s domestic violence statistics to last year’s because simple assaults have been subtracted from the new numbers. But the department went ahead and made the year-to-year comparison in another key area: Aggravated assaults. The LAPD has been reporting a drop in aggravated assaults.