Ferguson Civilian Review Board (FCRB)
One of the responsibilities of the Ferguson Civilian Review Board, per ordinance, is to “…review crime data…to identify patterns and trends.”
To do this, Ferguson Police Department crime data is displayed on various graphs that make patterns and trends easy to see.
More than 18,000 law enforcement agencies around the U.S. voluntarily submit crime data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program. The FPD is one of those agencies. Information on the UCR program, the data it gathers, and how to interpret that data, can be found on the FBI website at Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program — FBI.
Under the UCR program in Missouri, agency data is sent to the Missouri Highway Patrol, which is then compiled and sent to the FBI UCR program. The data in the Missouri Highway Patrol repository is much timelier and is now being used instead of data from the FBI UCR site.
In addition, the Ferguson Police Department has recently implemented several interactive dashboards on the City of Ferguson website. One of those dashboards includes past crime data reported to the FBI and also current year crime data. The crime data dashboard can be found by clicking the tab for “Calls for Service and Crime”.
The following graphs show FPD data reported to the UCR program from the year 1985 through last year.
The number of crime incidents reported and the number of incidents cleared are both shown on the graphs. Incidents are cleared when at least one person is arrested, charged, and turned over to the court for prosecution; or when exceptional circumstances prevent the arrest and charging of the offender (i.e., victim’s refusal to cooperate with prosecution, the offender is in jail in another jurisdiction and can’t be extradited, etc.).
The data shown is for Part I crimes, broken into Property crimes and Violent crimes. Part I crimes are serious crimes that are likely to be reported. Part II crimes are less serious (drug abuse, vandalism, disorderly conduct, etc.) and are not included in this data. The FBI definitions and categorizations for all crimes can be found at FBI — Offense Definitions.
In order to smooth the data, three year rolling averages are plotted. Linear trends in the data are also plotted.
According to the UCR program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: homicide (murder and nonnegligent manslaughter), rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes involve force or threat of force.
This chart shows an upward trend in violent crime reported in Ferguson. It also shows a growing gap since 2010 between the number of violent crimes that are reported and the number cleared.
According to the UCR program, property crime is composed of four offenses: arson, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft.
This chart shows a slightly upward trend in property crime reported in Ferguson. Property crime rose through the 1990s, peaked in the early 2000s, and has been slowly decreasing since then.
This chart shows the clearance rate for each crime category. The clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of incidents cleared by the number of incidents reported during each rolling three year average of the data. The FBI’s UCR site cautions that “...crimes are not necessarily cleared in the year they occur.”
While FPD crime clearance rates varied widely from the 1980s through the early 2000s, the rates settled into a more consistent downward pattern beginning in the mid-to-late 2000s. The clearance rate for violent crime has historically been higher than the clearance rate for property crime but beginning about 2010 those rates flipped.
“A primary responsibility of the police is to solve crimes that have occurred in the past. Solving crimes requires a high degree of police-community collaboration—through reporting crimes and tips, witness participation in investigations, and the like. Law enforcement agencies across the country consider crimes solved when they are cleared by arrests. For this reason, clearance rates (for example, the ratio of crimes cleared to offenses known by the police) can serve as an indicator of not only police effectiveness, but also of police-community collaboration.”