The panel New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly tapped to evaluate the integrity of his department’s crime-recording system will be visited today by criminologist Franklin Zimring of the University of California, Berkeley, says the New York Times. Zimring will talk about what a police official called “a pretty remarkable” analysis of the city’s historic crime decline. A draft of his finds will be published in Scientific American in the fall, with a book to follow.
In the book — working title: “The City That Became Safe: What New York Can Teach America About Crime Control” (Oxford University Press), Zimring relied on police statistics, and he had cooperation from the department’s hierarchy. He studied crime in three categories: homicides, robberies, and automobile thefts. In essence, Zimring says, “The crime trends you get off the official data are trustworthy in the three cases where we could check them,” he said. “What that does not mean is that the number of thefts the New York City Police Department reports is the number of thefts that citizens have experienced in the city. There is not a ‘CompStat-effect’ that makes the problem much worse than 1994.” He added: “The degree of underreporting, which I regard as a chronic condition in all police-generated data, is no greater now than it was 20 years ago, and probably, if you look at the robbery indicators, a little better now than it was then — and not measurably greater in this city than in other cities.”