Monday, September 4, 2017

MAP's Study of America’s “Missing Murders”

Coroners and medical examiners reported nearly 2,200 more homicides to state and federal health authorities in 2015 than police departments reported to the U.S. Justice Department, a long-standing discrepancy that has been getting worse in recent years.

A new study by the nonprofit Murder Accountability Project (MAP) found significant lapses in police participation in the annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR), a voluntary reporting program which policymakers rely upon as the official estimate for violent crimes in the United States.  

During the period 2000 through 2015, medical authorities reported 29,800 more homicides than were reported by police.

The UCR has been a voluntary program for law enforcement since its enactment by Congress in 1930. Physicians, however, are required by law to document all deaths and causes of death to state authorities and, ultimately, to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The reasons for the reporting failures by police are not entirely understood. In some cases, they result from unintended tabulation errors by police agencies, according to discussions by MAP with supervisors in those departments. But most of the reporting lapses resulted from failures (whether intentional or not) by police agencies to participate fully in federal crime reporting programs, the study found.

The MAP study found the CDC’s counts of murder are useful in identifying reporting failures by police over time and within individual states and counties. To see the full five-page report, click here. To see the data upon which this report is based, click here.