Numbers discrepancy

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 8, 2007

UCRA sheds light on crime stats

By Tammy Leytham

The Times-Journal

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A question regarding crime statistics that were given to The Selma Times-Journal recently by the police department launched an investigation into the alleged discrepancy.

A story that ran Jan. 2 has statistics that differ from those on the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center web site (

The crime stats furnished to the ACJIC by the police department for 2005 are not the same stats furnished to the newspaper by Police Chief Jimmy Martin for 2005.

However, Carol Roberts, assistant director of the Uniform Crime Reporting Agency, says it’s comparing apples to oranges.

She said law enforcement agencies from across the state (including Selma) send the Uniform Crime Reporting Agency their tapes, discs, individual police reports and other &8220;raw data.&8221;

For example, there is a difference in the number of burglaries reported for Selma in 2005. The number reported on the ACJIC web site is 467. The number given to this newspaper by Martin was 720.

One factor that has caused a discrepancy in the numbers is the fact that four months’ worth of 2005 data was never received from Selma, Roberts said. However, Roberts says, Selma is up-to- date on submitting 2006 data.

Aside from that fact, she said the coding for different types of criminal activities could cause them to end up in different categories. She said she was not surprised by the discrepancy.

For example, activities such as gas drive-offs, theft from yards, possession of burglary tools or receiving stolen property could be coded by a law enforcement agency as a burglary. But, by the FBI’s uniform crime reporting standard, those crimes would not end up listed as a burglary.

Gas drive-offs and theft from yards, for example, would be larceny, she said. But many law enforcement agencies in the state do not have separate coding for larceny.

Rapes also have multiple categories. By the FBI’s uniform crime reporting standards, for example, only a women can be raped. Such an assault on a man or a boy would be listed under separate coding, such as sodomy or sexual assault.