Since 2002, the New York Police Department has not made public its statistics on reports of lower-level crimes: a vast trove of complaints about matters like misdemeanor thefts and assaults, marijuana possession, and sex offenses other than rape, reports the New York Times. If major crimes are falling, so, typically, should lower-level crimes. Having both sets of data, some criminologists assert, would allow for a sort of truth testing.
Of the more than 500 police agencies in New York state, the city's police department is one of only two that do not voluntarily disclose data on lower-level crimes to the state. In several other major cities, like Los Angeles and Phoenix, such information is easily accessible on police department Web sites or via routine requests. Since 1978, long before data analysis was so heavy a staple of crime fighting, New York City reported lesser crime data to the state. That stopped not long after Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Raymond Kelly as police commissioner. Police officials blame computer problems. They say that when the department introduced its new OmniForm records management system in 2002, the priority was to make sure it could accurately track and extract major felonies. Police spokesman Paul Browne said the city had setbacks fixing errors in its nonindex crime reporting system. “I.B.M. thought they had a solution, and it did not work,” Browne said. “And now they're back to the drawing board.”