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Hidden 'health effects' of fudged crime stats

A couple of months ago, I wrote here on PoliceOne about something I call the Fudge Factor — that is to say, ‘cooking the books on crime stats.’ In the sidebar article I used the analogy of healthy eating to offer some ideas on replacing fudged crime stats with something better for all of us — that is, to have ethical chiefs and sheriffs.

As with many health threats, some are aren’t as obvious as others and don’t make the headlines. Here are four ideas to consider...

1.) Pressure to fudge crime stats breeds cynicism amongst rank and file cops. Cynicism can be an energy and initiative killer. It’s also fertile ground for corruption.
2.) Fudged crime numbers can breed cynicism amongst the citizenry. When citizens are cynical about the police, they don’t trust them. When the community doesn’t trust its police, police work is more dangerous.
3.) Fudged crime stats can create a false perception of public safety. Communities whose improvements (on paper) show they need less resources could lose those resources—and still face the same amount of actual crime on the streets.
4.) In the process of fudging crime stats, crime victims can be re-victimized when their reports are down-graded, discouraged or ignored. That, in itself, should be a crime.

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