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Chicago Police underreported number of 2012 aggravated assault and battery, audit finds

Updated: May 9, 2014 6:15AM

About one-quarter of victims of aggravated assault and battery failed to get counted in Chicago Police statistics for 2012, according to a city Office of the Inspector General report released Monday.

That’s because police didn’t count each person in a crime involving multiple victims as a separate offense, the inspector general’s office said.

The audit reviewed a sample of 383 assault-related incident reports out of a total of 83,480 for 2012.

Because of the findings, Chicago Police officials have agreed to review every aggravated assault and battery in 2012 and 2013 — and count each victim.

Police officials explained that the Illinois Uniform Crime Report, which is created annually by the Illinois State Police, changed the way aggravated assaults and batteries were reported in 2010. The Uniform Crime Report went from counting “incidents” to counting victims. Multiple victims can be part of each incident.

The Chicago Police Department, which was headed by police Supt. Jody Weis in 2010, failed to change the way those crimes were reported and the problem came to the attention of police Supt. Garry McCarthy in late 2013, officials said.

McCarthy ordered a review of 2012 and 2013 reports of aggravated battery and assault. He also is changing the field manual for officers, so they know how to report those crimes accurately.

The audit didn’t address the way police count shooting incidents. Shootings are not included as a category in the Illinois Uniform Crime Report.

The audit also didn’t examine the classification and reporting of murders. Of the 6,260 homicides reported on the city’s data portal between 2001 and June 12, 2013, all but 19 of them were classified as first-degree murder. Nineteen were counted as involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide.

The report found that Chicago Police officers “incorrectly classified 3.1 percent of 2012 assault-related events contained in incident reports.” For example, the victim and offender were former roommates in one case. Due to their relationship, the correct code for the incident was “domestic simple battery,” but the officer coded the incident as a “simple battery.”

The 3.1 percent error rate was under the 10 percent error rate that the FBI states is acceptable for agencies participating in its national reporting program, according to the inspector general.

“The integrity and reliability of crime statistics used for those purposes hinges on two features — the accuracy of incident reporting from the field and the accuracy of the classification and reporting of that information once entered into the system,” Inspector General Joe Ferguson said in a prepared statement.

“CPD’s robust response to the problems the audit revealed is an encouraging sign of an organization seeking to improve,” he said. “We caution, however, that what is reported out is only as reliable as what is fed into the system from the field. Public confidence in crime statistics therefore also depends on the accuracy of field reporting, which we did not test.”

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