Chicago police did not report about a quarter of the aggravated assault and aggravated battery victims in its 2012 crime statistics, says a city inspector general’s audit reported by the Chicago Tribune. The department failed to follow state guidelines by counting each aggravated assault or battery as one incident, not each victim as it should have, leading to the underreporting because of all the incidents that involved multiple victims. The department said it has reported aggravated assaults and aggravated batteries in this way for many years, meaning Chicago’s statistics on these crimes — including nonfatal shootings — have long gone underreported to the Illinois State Police and FBI. The Tribune first highlighted how the department reported the number of shooting incidents, not victims, in 2010.
Last July, the newspaper analyzed shootings in the first six months of 2013 and found that there had been more than 1,000 victims, far more than the department’s numbers because it reported only shooting incidents. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy blamed the administration of his predecessor, Jody Weis, for not changing the way it tracks aggravated assaults and aggravated batteries. John Eterno, a former New York City police captain who researches how police track crime data, said the audit pointed to what could be even more widespread crime reporting errors. “Based on this report, a larger audit … would be called for,” said Eterno, a criminal justice professor at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, N.Y. “This is the tip of the iceberg.”