Last night I attended the City Council for the first time in a long time.

(Favorite councilor MikeGermain asked me if I’d been boycotting the CC.  I haven’t been, but I have a volunteer obligation on Tuesday evenings that makes attending on time impossible.)

I came to the meeting about halfway through the councilors’ comments on the WPD presentation of crime statistics.

I was really happy to hear that in 2011 “there was a 1.7 percent reduction in all violent crime (murder, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault) compared to 2010.”

So I decided to go to the FBI UCR website, which is like Pinterest for people like me, to get the detail for the preliminary statistics for January-June 2011.

I saw that there were no violent crimes or forcible rapes listed for either 2010 or Jan-June 2011.

And I thought, “Wow, we’re really doing well!”

Then I saw a superscript 5 next to the name of our fair city.

That 5 means:

The FBI determined that the agency’s data were underreported. Consequently, those data are not included in this table.

We are now taking bets on how long it will take before the WPD issues a press release criticizing the FBI for their faulty reporting standards.

On a slightly-less-snarky note, this has been reported on before in the Telegram, but that was part of a larger discussion with problems with the FBI’s definition of rape.  In some other cases where the FBI was not listing a community’s rape statistics, it was because the reporting agency was being more “generous” with the term than the FBI would have liked; that does not appear to be the case with Worcester.

The FBI has now changed their definition to be more inclusive.  I think it’s worth asking (in the context of Sunshine Week) to see what the WPD plans on doing to align their rape reporting with the FBI’s new definition.

I know that one isn’t supposed to rely on the MA UCR website for official reporting, but if one wants to see what we think the WPD might have reported for rape statistics, it’s our only bet.

There are 20 forcible rapes and 6 forcible sodomies [full disclosure: I have no idea what the plural of “sodomy” is] listed for [11 months reported in] 2011.  (Down from 50 and 6, respectively, in 2010.)

I think the MA standard must be different than the FBI standard, because Facebook tells me that there were 647 aggravated assaults in 2011, while the MA UCR site lists 982 [for 11 months reported in 2011].

Again, the caveat with the MA UCR site is that the “public is welcome to visit with the understanding that ANY reports and statistics are preliminary, subject to change, and under no circumstances to be used as official crime or statistical reports.”

It is not denigrating the hard work of the men and women of the WPD to ask for reliable (and easily accessible) crime statistics.  If we’re committed to community policing, we need to give as many tools to the community as possible.


2 thoughts on “Bravo!

  1. Dianne Williamson says:

    Nicole, we should hire you.

  2. maxine delirious says:

    I think “sodomy” –figuratively speaking, anyway–is what sometimes happens to taxpayers who believe everything the wpd PR department tells them. .

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