Skip to comments.TENNESSEE: New method to log crime ups Memphis tally (WHINE ALERT)
Posted on 07/17/2002 9:27:45 PM PDT by GailA
New method to log crime ups Memphis tally By Yolanda Jones firstname.lastname@example.org July 17, 2002
Memphis accounted for nearly one in every five serious crimes reported in Tennessee last year, according to a new comprehensive statewide report issued Tuesday by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
But there were two metropolitan areas - Jackson and Chattanooga - that had higher rates of serious crime than Memphis. And the Bluff City rate was almost identical to Nashville's.
What's more, Memphis police cleared a slightly higher percentage of crimes - either by arresting or identifying a suspect - than did authorities in Nashville, Knoxville or Chattanooga.
The 2001 crime statistics were collected from 409 law enforcement agencies throughout the state. They can be viewed online at www.tbi.state.tn.us, the TBI's Web site.
Tuesday marked the first time the TBI has reported crime statistics from all police agencies using TIBRS, or the Tennessee Incident-Based Reporting System, mandated by the legislature. The new reporting method records more crimes and breaks them into more categories than the old system still used by most U.S. cities.
Law enforcement officials in Memphis say the new reporting system gives a truer picture of crime and is more helpful in figuring strategies to fight crime. The downside is that switching to the new system creates the appearance of a jump in crime. It also makes it harder to compare crime in Memphis with other cities that use the old system.
In 2000, the Memphis Police Department became the largest municipal police agency in the country to switch to the new method.
While there is a national equivalent to TIBRS - called NIBRS, or National Incident-Based Reporting System - virtually all other major cities from New York to Los Angeles still use the traditional FBI Uniform Crime Reporting system (UCR). Austin, Texas, is the largest city outside of Tennessee using the new method.
One of the major differences between the two is how they deal with incidents that involve more than one crime. Under the UCR system, a robbery of three people in which one of the victims was killed would result in only the most serious crime - the homicide - being reported. Under TIBRS, both the robbery and the homicide would be counted. (MY NOTE THIS IS CALLED HIERARCHICAL COUNTING)
''To compare us to cities that don't use incident-based reporting system is not fair,'' said Police Director Walter Crews. ''I'm not trying to cover up anything, but this is a matter of fair play. And you can't compare this new data with old data from another system. You are looking at more than just one incident reported.''
The TIBRS system also reports crime in much more detail. The UCR system has eight basic categories for serious crimes while TIBRS divides major crime into 47 categories. It breaks sexual assault into six categories, for example, ranging from forcible rape to incest.
And TIBRS counts several crimes as serious that the UCR system does not, including illegal gambling and drug violations.
The difference between the two systems is apparent when looking at the 2001 numbers for Memphis. Under the UCR system, Memphis would have reported 65,697 serious crimes last year (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and arson). Under TIBRS, there were 109,318.
''With the TIBRS system it allows for a better tracking of crime by time, location and method,'' Crews said.
Officials cautioned against trying to compare the new data with UCR data.
''It's like comparing a 1929 Chevy to a 2002 Cadillac,'' said TBI staff attorney Jeanne Broadwell.
- Yolanda Jones: 529-2380
Nashville 3rd in state in slayings
By CHRISTIAN BOTTORFF Staff Writer
Memphis had the state's highest homicide rate in 2001, followed by Chattanooga, then Nashville, according to a new statewide crime report released yesterday.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's ''Crime in Tennessee 2001'' report takes data from 95 sheriff's departments, 264 municipal police departments, 17 colleges and universities, seven state law enforcement agencies and 26 drug task forces.
Using 2000 population, the report shows Memphis' homicide rate is 24.5 per 100,000 residents, while Chattanooga and Nashville have rates of 16 and 11.9 homicides per 100,000 residents, respectively.
Knoxville and Clarksville had rates of 8.6 and 7.7 homicides per 100,000 residents, respectively.
The report was not without problems, however, and top brass from the state's four largest cities issued a press release yesterday saying they had problems reporting data to the TBI, resulting in some errors in the long-awaited final report.
Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis law enforcement officials said ''problems with the new data entry procedures, software problems and computer glitches have affected the accuracy of certain figures,'' the release reads.
For example, because of an error in the information sent from Nashville, the TBI report shows Metro police made only 23 prostitution arrests in 2001.
Yesterday, Metro police said the TBI report should have shown 795 prostitution arrests were made in 2001.
''There are some agencies that are experiencing some difficulties with their software,'' Larry Wallace, TBI director, said yesterday at a press conference. ''With the evolution of training and software improvements, each subsequent year's report will be measured against the prior years'.''
Metro Police Chief Emmett Turner said future reports should give police a better understanding of the crimes committed here. He said police would do their part to become more proficient in entering the data.
The new report uses a data collection system Tennessee Information Based Reporting System which requires that police departments submit data on 22 crime categories, ranging from arson and embezzlement to a range of theft charges. Every offense is counted in the new system, replacing an older FBI method that collected information on only the most serious criminal offenses.
Under Tennessee law, all law enforcement agencies, colleges and universities are required to report crime statistics to the TBI. Police departments from Bethel Springs and Lake City have excluded themselves from submitting crime data to the TBI.
Just identifying clears a crime now?