According to Benjamin Disraeli's famous quote: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics." Nowhere is this more true than with crime rate statistics. For example, each year, the F.B.I. issues its Uniform Crime Reports, which is a compilation of crime statistics for certain serious crimes which are compiled by the F.B.I. based upon submissions from law enforcement agencies around the country. These reports may serve as a decent barometer. But, in my opinion, these annual reports are flawed. Or at least they don't give us a complete picture about crime. Here are a couple of reasons why:
1. There have been a number of reports about various state and local law enforcement agencies around the country which have submitted inaccurate information to the F.B.I. about crime stats in their jurisdictions. But there is another more fundamental reason why you shouldn't trust crime rate statistics:
2. Let's assume you are a sheriff who is running for re-election. In order to get re-elected, you might direct your investigators to make fewer street level drug arrests during the months leading up to the election. Then, you could (falsely) claim that you have "cleaned up Dodge City" because the crime statistics (and number of drug arrests) are down. On the other hand, if you have worked hard to make more drug cases, and the number of arrests have gone up, then, ironically, the crime statistics might make it (incorrectly) appear that a new sheriff is needed to deal with the growing drug problem! Don't you see my point? Do you agree?
So, in my opinion, while Disraeli may not have been absolutely correct about statistics, he was pretty close. We should at least take crime rate statistics with a grain of salt. Of course, I'll bet there's one crime statistic about which we can all agree: that is, that the crime rate is always "going up!"