LAPD Underreported Assaults, Skewing Crime Rate for 8 Years

LOS ANGELES (Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

The Los Angeles Police Department misclassified an estimated 14,000 serious assaults as minor offenses in a recent eight-year period, artificially lowering the city’s crime levels, a Los Angeles Times analysis found.

With the incidents counted correctly, violent crime in the city was 7 percent higher than the LAPD reported in the period from 2005 to fall 2012, and the number of serious assaults was 16 percent higher, the analysis found.

When presented with the findings, top LAPD officials acknowledged the department makes errors and said they were working to improve the accuracy of crime data reporting.

“We know this can have a corrosive effect on the public’s trust of our reporting,” said Assistant Chief Michel Moore, who oversees the LAPD’s system for tracking crime. “That’s why we are committed to … eliminating as much of the error as possible.”

The findings are a mark against a department that has long been viewed as a national leader in using data to help deploy officers and set crime-fighting targets. When Mayor Eric Garcetti took office in 2013, he held up the LAPD’s data-tracking system as a model the rest of city government should emulate.

The findings follow a Times investigation last year that examined LAPD crime data from a 12-month period ending in the fall of 2013 and found widespread errors in the way serious assaults were classified.