FBI crime report lacks some useful data

holderEvery year the FBI releases what it calls the Uniform Crime Report, which details numbers of arrests – which counts one arrest for each separate instance in which a person is arrested, cited, or summoned for an offense – and various other data on crime, criminals, and law enforcement officers.

One of the numbers that jumped out to me was that arrests for cannabis possession makes up a smaller percentage of drug related arrests out west (18%) compared to the rest of the country (~50%). This can be attributed, at least partially, to the fact that cannabis is decriminalized, legal only for medicinal purposes, or legal to purchase for non-medicinal purposes in many western States. This seems to correspond to data from Portugal that shows that both teen drug use and adult drug abuse decrease when the criminal penalties are mostly removed. Der Spiegel reported after 12 years of decriminalization in Portugal the number of drug addicts who have undergone rehab has increased, “while the number of drug addicts who have become infected with HIV has fallen significantly.” This is because drug users are not treated like criminals.

Back in the US, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report shows 280,860 arrests for liquor law violations (doubtless many of these went for underage possession or open container); 42,110 arrests for prostitution and commercialized vice; 47,934 arrests for curfew and loitering law violations; 5,089 arrests for gambling; and a whopping 2,620,320 arrests for “all other offenses (except traffic).” While it is difficult to tell how many of the “other” offenses had a victim, or how many of the 375,142 people arrested for disorderly conduct were cited for anything other than “contempt-of-cop,” it is clear that nearly half (and upwards of 2/3) of all arrests are for crimes with no identifiable victim. Whereas, violent crime accounted for only 1 in 5 arrests.

The report also shows that police killed 461 people in what is deemed a justifiable homicide, defined as “[t]he killing of a felon by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty.” What isn’t tabulated is the total number of people killed by police, the total number of bullets fired, the total number of times a firearm was used by a police officer, or the number of times that a police officer used a non-lethal weapon. In fact, those numbers aren’t available anywhere! The Washington Post reported in August, “Officials with the Justice Department keep no comprehensive database or record of police shootings, instead allowing the nation’s more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies to self-report officer-involved shootings as part of the FBI’s annual data on ‘justifiable homicides’ by law enforcement…
The DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics also tracks ‘arrest-related deaths.’ But the department stopped releasing those numbers after 2009, because, like the FBI data, they were widely regarded as unreliable.”

Jim Fisher, a former FBI agent and criminal justice professor said, “I was rather surprised to find there are no statistics. The answer to me is pretty obvious: the government just doesn’t want us to know how many people are shot by the police every year.”

Why would the federal government want to hide that statistic? It’s incredibly likely that they want to hide the fact that nearly 1,000 people are killed by police officers every year. While violent crime has decreased by 48.4% per capita over the last 20 years, the Police State has increased by a literally uncountable measure over the same period of time because the FBI & DOJ puts those figures in the proverbial memory hole.

No Comments Yet

Comments are closed