More than 5,300 violent assaults have been misreported since 2006, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn told a Common Council committee, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. An internal department audit shows that 20 percent of aggravated assaults were underreported as lesser offenses that didn’t get counted in the violent crime rate during that time. That echoes the findings of a Journal Sentinel investigation of a more-limited pool of cases that identified in excess of 500 misreported serious assaults over a three-year period and another 800 cases that fit the same pattern.
The department’s review suggests the problem is much deeper than had been reported and has existed for a longer period, including before Flynn’s tenure began in 2008. Flynn said the assault coding errors identified by the department will be sent to the FBI for revision, which will place the city’s overall crime rate higher than previously reported. Flynn stressed the errors were due to human and computer error and not the result of any manipulation of data. “There is a big difference between a bureaucratic failure and a bureaucratic plot,” Flynn said. “There has been a bureaucratic failure, and to the extent I’m the chief bureaucrat, I’m responsible for that failure.