National Academy of Science: Panel on Modernizing the Nation’s Crime Statistics

In December, the National Academy of Science (NAS) held the first meeting of its newly formed Panel on Modernizing the Nation’s Crime Statistics. This Panel discussion marked the beginning of a 2-year study to consider the development of a modern set of crime measures in the United States and the best methods for obtaining them.

The Panel was created by the National Academy of Science’s Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) together with its Committee on Law and Justice. These committees both maintain that more information is needed on certain types of crime such as those committed against businesses or organizations as well as cases of personal identity theft. CNSTAT also proposed the need for a refined ability to associate attributes such as firearms or drug involvement to certain crime types, and a more complete implementation of electronic reporting, data capture, and system interoperability. For more information please visit: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/CNSTAT/CurrentProjects/DBASSE_085946.

The NAS Panel meeting invited numerous stakeholder groups to offer their remarks, highlighting their concerns and perspectives. John Firman, Research Center Director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), provided testimony on behalf of IACP. He cited IACP’s role in the development of the first ever data collection effort on crime, the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). Looking toward the future of crime statistics, Firman noted the importance of an innovation in the way we think about and collect crime data. “For too many years, our nation’s chiefs have been tasked with ‘defending their numbers’ – waiting for FBI UCR to be published and covered in their local papers. Rather than being able to talk about a holistic approach to community safety, they end up simply defending Part I and Part II crime levels”.

The IACP envisions an advanced method of crime data collection in the United States that will have a positive impact on the future of policing and will assist in promoting a stronger sense of community well-being. As Mr. Firman expressed in his testimony, “Our hope is that your work results in a set of data that promotes a dialogue between the police and the citizens they serve—moving UCR from statistics we simply react to, to data that promotes an informed conversation about how police and the community can work together to decrease crime and increase public safety”. IACP will continue to work closely with the committee as they move forward.

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