Americans Less Willing To Report Crime, Study Claims

Woman using smartphone in the dark
Woman using smartphone in the dark | Image by d3sign/Getty Images

Splashy headlines have trumpeted that crime is declining across the nation, but an analysis of the data shows that most crimes do not result in arrests, and many crimes are going unreported, artificially skewing the numbers and making it seem like criminal activity is less common than it really is.

Original research by the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) shows that violent crime remains 7% higher than in 2019 despite widespread claims by the media that crime is at lower levels. CPRC argued that the reason for the reduction is that fewer people report crimes. Police are also failing to make arrests in many cases, and a purported lack of trust in law enforcement may be a driving reason that people are not reporting crimes.

“More importantly, the number of crimes reported to police falls as the arrest rate declines,” CPRC said in its report. “If people don’t think the police will solve their cases, they are less likely to report them to the police. While the violent crime rate reported to police fell by 1.7% between 2021 and 2022, the National Crime Victimization Survey shows that total violent crime (reported and non-reported) rose from 16.5 to 23.5 per 100,000.”

Lengthy police response times and a longstanding shortage of officers at the Dallas Police Department have hampered its ability to fight crime. The department only fields around 3,000 officers despite a City analysis advising that roughly 4,000 are needed to properly maintain public safety and bring down response times.

Additionally, while City officials have boasted a substantial drop in certain categories of violent crime, property crimes have been steadily on the rise, and overall crime is up, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

The shortage’s effects have impacted Downtown Dallas, which regularly sees more crime than Fort Worth’s city center. A dedicated police unit and private security guards patrol the latter.

Despite the situation, the Dallas City Council only approved a budget of $654 million for DPD this fiscal year, choosing to spend less on public safety than other high-crime cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

CPRC found that just 41.5% of violent crimes nationwide were reported to police, and of that number, only 35.2% led to an arrest. The organization pointed out that the figures suggest only 14.6% of violent crimes result in an arrest.

Property crimes have been on the rise nationwide and are among the most common types of crimes committed, according to CPRC. Such crimes, including vandalism, theft, and destruction of property, are among the least frequently reported to police.

CPRC discovered that only 31.8% of property crimes were reported, and only 11.9% led to an arrest. The group stated that only 3.8% of all property crimes led to an arrest.

Arrest rates are even more dire in cities with large populations (over 1 million residents). Murder and rape are viewed as the most heinous of crimes, but in 2022, just 40.6% of murders and 17.4% of rapes led to an arrest. Data from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that suspects arrested for federal crimes in 2022 totaled 96,857. However, just 49,897 individuals were sentenced to prison, and only 67,807 arrests led to charges being filed.

Further complicating the picture of crime rates in the United States is disparities in data reporting. State law enforcement agencies voluntarily report crime data to the FBI, and there is a likelihood that not all criminal arrests and convictions are reported.

The FBI made a significant change in 2021 to the system by which law enforcement agencies reported crimes, leading to heavily skewed numbers that year as many large agencies could not update their systems in time, according to The Marshall Project. In 2022, around 6,000 of the nation’s 18,000 police agencies failed to submit data.

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article