Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle defended his department’s reporting of crime statistics to a City Council Committee. Crime reporting methods have come under a spotlight after several Dallas Morning News stories showing that the department lets hundreds and perhaps thousands of offenses slip from the city’s crime tally each year by not following federal guidelines. Changing the reporting system would be “a mistake because we will be overreporting crimes in relationship to other cities,” he said.
Kunkle’s PowerPoint presentation to the committee made no mention of the FBI guidelines that the department is supposed to follow. The chief’s presentation focused on the Texas Penal Code, which the FBI says should have no bearing on how the department classifies crime for reporting numbers to federal authorities. “If I take a crowbar and hit [council member] Ron Natinsky on the kneecap, and he does not go to the doctor, that is not an assault?” frustrated council member Tennell Atkins asked. Kunkle replied that it was an assault but that it couldn’t be classified as an aggravated assault – and go into the city’s violent crime statistics – unless Natinsky required a trip to the hospital. Kunkle’s definition of aggravated assault does not comply with FBI guidelines. By classifying the crime differently, Dallas greatly reduces its violent crime rate.