Racial violence might be up. It might be down. Either way we may never know: A new study from the Department of Justice says victims of violent crime often do not call the police.
And if they do, police often do not file crime reports, say local newspapers around the country.
“More than half of the nation’s violent crimes, or nearly 3.4 million violent victimizations per year, went unreported to the police between 2006 and 2010,” said a Justice Department analysis.
That’s 17 million violent crimes off the books in five years.
Some say it is even worse. They point to the experience that cities around America are having with ShotSpotter: An anti-crime technology that features an array of wireless microphones that can pinpoint the location of a gun shot to within 40 feet.
The system is 96 percent accurate.
Using ShotSpotter, the New York Times reports that neighbors called police only 10 percent of the time guns were fired in a high-crime area of San Francisco. In Oakland, 22 percent of gunshots prompted 9-1-1 calls.
And often when people “call it in,” the police do not file a report, further skewing the statistics in places like Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
In Queens, a New York Times headline reports, “A new police tactic: Keeping crime off the books.”
New York police refused to take a report when a man groped Jill Korber several days in a row.
“He told me it would be a waste of time, because I didn’t know who the guy was or where he worked or anything,” said Ms. Korber, 34, a schoolteacher. “His words to me were, ‘These things happen.’ He said those words.”
In Milwaukee, 50 black people looted a convenience store in 2011. Then they moved to a nearby park where they assaulted 10 people having a Fourth of July picnic.
The following day, several of the victims went to the police station to learn about the status of their case. “What case?” asked the officer on duty. There was no report. Eventually, after pressure from talk radio and television reporters, police launched an investigation.
Less than one year later, a headline in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it all:
In Wilmington, Del., store owners say police do not respond to frequent calls to report shoplifting. “It happens all the time,” said one store owner. “We have it on video. But the police won’t do anything about it or even file a report.”
Also in Wilmington in August 2012, a group of 10 black people attacked a minister, knocking him unconscious. He waited for police for more than an hour before going to the hospital without filing a police report.
At a community meeting several days later, neighbors talked about the violence in that neighborhood, and how they did not report it because they feared retaliation—one of the main reasons for not reporting crime cited in the Department of Justice study.
Twenty percent of the victims also lack confidence in the ability of police to do anything about the lawlessness, says the study.
In schools, 75 percent of the 450,000 violent crimes that happen every year were not reported during this five year period.
The Second City Cop is a blog for and by Chicago police officers. After a recent violent weekend featuring three attacks of black mobs in the 018 beat, the downtown area, the blog reported:
“And for the record, the ‘three’ ‘muggings’ that are being ‘investigated?’ Add a zero to that for incidents occurring last night in 018. Crime is down and if no one reports it or the media doesn’t get a hold of it? It never happened.’”