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Underreported Assaults in 2012

By: Kelly Tansor, Copy Editor (ktanso2@uic.edu)

It has recently been reported that the number of Chicago assault and battery cases in 2012 has gone underreported.  The Chicago Police Department has previously reported the number of incidents rather than the number of victims, which silences many victims of assault and battery in Chicago.  Supt. McCarthy is now issuing a review of these cases so that a more accurate number is reported.  Shockingly, though, this practice has been going on for years.

A recent audit done on the Chicago Police Department has revealed that about one-quarter of aggravated assault and battery victims failed to be counted in the Chicago Police 2012 statistics.  According to the inspector general’s office, “police didn’t count each person in a crime involving multiple victims as a separate offense,” leading to the inaccurate number that was originally reported.  Supt. McCarthy has now ordered a review of the 2012 and 2013 reports of aggravated battery and assault in addition to a change of the field manual for officers, ensuring that they know exactly how to report these crimes.

As it turns out, practices like this have been going on for years.  Police officers feel a pressure to report that Chicago’s crime rates are going down while the nation’s crime rates are going up.  Because of this, many crimes in the past have been discounted or unreported.  In 2010, the department only reported the number of shooting incidents rather than victims; it was later revealed that there were over 1,000 shooting victims, which is a far less number than shooting incidents.

The inspector general report for 2012 found that out of a sample of 383 assault-related crimes, “the 72 aggravated assault and aggravated battery incidents had a combined 95 victims. That meant that by reporting only the number of incidents, Chicago police had failed to include 23 victims,” a number that accounts for 24% of aggravated assault and battery cases.  By only reporting the number of incidents, the department fails to count the shocking number of victims of assault and battery, leading many to mistakenly believe that crime in Chicago is not nearly as bad as it really is.

Whether this was intentional or not, this leaves Chicago citizens blindly optimistic that our number of assault and battery cases are not as high as they used to be.  The fact is, many cases go underreported, and some do not go reported at all.  Now that McCarthy is issuing an in-depth review of the cases, now these victims are finally being heard.  All we can hope is that future victims will be heard as well.

Not that there should be future victims…

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