HomePoliticsHomicides rose in 2021, but FBI data is incomplete

Homicides rose in 2021, but FBI data is incomplete

The number of reported murders in the United States rose last year, the FBI said Wednesday, but the bureau warned that changes to its data collection program prevented nearly half of law enforcement agencies, including police. from New York City and Los Angeles, were converted. about your data.

Overall, the FBI estimated that violent crime decreased 1% in the US in 2021. The robbery rate decreased 8.9% from 2020 to 2021, which FBI officials say contributed greatly to measure to declines in violent crime overall, despite increases in murder and rape rates. at the national level

The number of reported murders in the US has increased 4.3% since 2020, according to FBI data. But top officials don’t think this is an accurate picture, as only 11,794 of 18,806 law enforcement agencies opted to submit expanded homicide data. They concluded that turnout for 2021 remained “below a statistically acceptable level to be nationally representative.”

The incomplete data comes as the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics transition to a more granular and comprehensive crime reporting system, known as the “National Incident-Based Reporting System.”

The new data collection method offers a more complete picture of crime in the nation, with additional information collected on victims, offenders and those arrested, including age, gender and race, as well as a description of the relationship of the victim with the offender. The updated collection system also breaks down violations by state and reports suspected drug or alcohol use by the offender. Officials say the data will also offer more detail on specific crimes such as human trafficking, bribery and counterfeiting.

“The national homicide rate is up a lot, a lot less than what we saw in 2020. And the national violent crime rate has actually slowed down,” said Ames Grawert, a senior adviser at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Both are good news, relative to what we saw in 2020.”

From 2019 to 2020, the homicide rate increased 29.4%, FBI data previously showed.

“The problem is that all the information the FBI releases is based on estimates, due to changes in the way the FBI collects data,” Ames added. Those changes have resulted in “less accurate” information.

National estimates in 2021 are based on data submissions from 52% of law enforcement agencies nationwide. Approximately 48% of law enforcement agencies nationwide did not report any data in 2021, leaving significant gaps in coverage.

“We’re certainly not saying it’s a wash,” a senior official with the Bureau of Justice Statistics told reporters Tuesday, noting that the metrics are produced using estimation methods. “We have all the confidence in the world about these estimates. It’s not that we don’t have confidence in what they’re producing. There’s just a certain level of uncertainty around the estimates.”

But officials admit that 2021 marks a year of transition as more law enforcement agencies work to develop the tools and personnel needed to collect more comprehensive data. Justice Department officials said analysts have produced state-level estimates for about 40 of the 50 states, representing 65% of the total US population.

“While the FBI has used estimation methods to try to combat data gaps, it’s fundamentally challenging to do so when there’s not a lot of data,” said Rachael Eisenberg, senior director for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for Criminal Justice. American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.

The FBI’s analysis of trends over the past year does not take into account most agencies in populous states like California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Florida. Major police departments did not report data using the new FBI system, including the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, Los Angeles Police Department San Francisco and the Phoenix Police Department.

“The data is only as good as the input,” said Art Acevedo, a former Miami and Houston police chief. The former police chief praised the departments that participated in the FBI’s “most comprehensive reporting system.”

“Those who didn’t…why aren’t they being transparent about public safety?” Acevedo added. “What are they hiding?”

The agencies have had five years to switch to the new data collection system. But a senior FBI official said the transition has been difficult for law enforcement agencies for “a number of reasons.”

“Whether it’s funding or staff resources. They may have had a hard time getting a supplier for their procurement cycles,” the official added.

“I can tell you that the agencies we are in constant contact with have full commitments to make the transition,” the official continued. “Everyone is working for it. It’s just that some of them didn’t arrive before the deadline.”

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