Sunday, May 10, 2020

Police departments failed to report nearly 3,000 homicides in 2018

America’s coroners and medical examiners reported nearly 3,000 more homicides in 2018 than were reported by law enforcement officials – the largest discrepancy on record.

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

Medical examiners in 2018 documented 2,953 more homicides than were reported by police to the UCR. These discrepancies also were unusually large in 2017 and 2016. During the 19-year period from 2000 through 2018, medical authorities reported 36,769 more homicides than were reported by police.

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

Homicide reporting discrepancies vary enormously by state, MAP found. Mississippi leads the nation in reporting failures at 238 homicides in 2018, followed by Texas, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, California, Illinois, North Carolina and Tennessee. The study also found significant failures to report homicides of Native Americans, infants and the elderly.

To download a copy of this 5-page report, click here. To download an Excel spreadsheet of the data used in this study, including missing murder reports for all 50 states and 323 urban counties, click here.