Underreporting of Crime

By Rick Oltman
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 21, Number 4 (Summer 2011)
Issue theme: "Drug smugglers, terrorists, and violent migrants flood across our porous borders"

The underreporting of crime in our country has become an epidemic that threatens our Republic with increased violence and urban anarchy. The lack of accurate data about crime in our communities results in more risk to citizens and law enforcement personnel. If towns and cities don’t report crime data accurately, state and federal statistics won’t be accurate and planning and resource allocation cannot be effectively deployed to combat the criminals in our society. It is a bottom-up process. The F.B.I. Uniform Crime Reports are only as accurate as the information they receive, or don’t receive, from local jurisdictions.
Underreporting of crime has always existed. Typically 25-30 percent of crimes are not reported to police at all. These tend to be property crimes where the victim determines that it is a bother or useless to call the police. The property may not be insured, they don’t have serial numbers which would aid in identifying the stolen items, or they just don’t want to interact with the police for a variety of reasons. In addition to property crimes, other unreported crimes include muggings, assaults, thefts, and robberies that occur in remote areas, the parking lots of bars, or as a result of men seeking the services of prostitutes and being too embarrassed by the circumstances to contact police.
The number one component of crime is the quantity of young men between the ages of 14 and 24 years old. One can follow and predict the rise and fall of crime in our society as this demographic cohort enters, travels through, and then exits the prime crime years. Some law enforcement executives have recently suggested that you can reduce the age to 12 and can now add girl-gangs to the equation.
The arcane world of the police subculture provides a myriad of ways to bury the truth about crime in a community if elected officials so direct police executives. There are three different groups responsible for the willful underreporting of crime:
1. Politicians at the city and county level
2. Police and Sheriff Department administrators
3. Rank-and-file law enforcement officers.

Political pressure is the main reason for underreporting of crime. While “political correctness” plays a part, the prime motivation for underreporting is to make a community appear to have less crime as an inducement for tourism or new businesses and people to move into that community.
For example: city administrators may decide they want the burglary rate reduced.
The F.B.I. Uniform Crime Reports includes burglary as a Part 1 Criminal Offense. Part 1 offenses are called “major crimes” and include; murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson. And, the F.B.I.’s reporting comes from field reports filed by local law enforcement that can, and does, exercise wide discretion in the reporting. The devil is certainly in the details.
Massaging the Stats
Breaking into a car and stealing a laptop, briefcase—or in the old days a tape deck—is burglary. But, Police Department executives can decide that unless there is evidence that the car was locked, the crime should be written up as “theft from a vehicle” instead of a burglary, even though the owner of the car swears that he locked the car. One less burglary is reported at the local and national level. And regardless of whether this is the official or unofficial policy of the Department, by the end of the year the picture of local crime is vastly distorted.
Gang graffiti, a clear indication of serious criminal activity that includes all of the F.B.I. Part 1 Offenses, is typically treated as a code violation. Gang tags, besides staking out territory, often announce or predict the murder of a rival gang member. Citizens who call the police frequently find themselves notified by the Code Enforcement Department that they have a certain amount of time to paint over the tag. In many cases it’s not handled as a police problem, no follow-up investigation by the police occurs, and there is no mention of this gang activity in the logs or reports. When there is a shootout on a city street, or gang members are stopped in their car and found with machetes, shotguns, and baseball bats and arrested, that makes it into news and can’t be ignored. But many times the signs and indications of criminal gang activity are ignored even though real police know that a gang tag is the tip of the iceberg.
The laziness of some police officers or the failure of younger officers to understand the importance of accuracy adds to the underreporting.
Many departments now direct citizens to fill out a police report online and don’t send an officer to question the victim. Many online reporting sites are English only, which obviously limits the number of crime reports filed.
Department budget priorities can also impact crime fighting and reporting. Officers are frequently told by Watch Commanders that due to overtime restrictions they must get off the streets and spend the final hours of their shift completing reports and paperwork for their daily activity. Sometimes they are told directly to not get into a high speed pursuit resulting in a felony arrest that would require hours of overtime pay to complete the report. With fewer officers on the streets for two to three hours out of their shift, crime reporting is reduced, not to mention crime fighting.
The newest area of underreporting is with regard to illegal alien crime.
When cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City refuse to enforce federal immigration laws and city after city across the country back out of the Secure Communities program, it is certain that citizens are not getting the correct illegal alien crime picture.
For over 30 years the Los Angeles Police Department has been operating under Special Order 40, which prevents officers from inquiring about immigration status and from contacting federal immigration officials about an individual’s immigration status. It is estimated that there are more gang members in Los Angeles than Marines in the United States Marine Corps. But with Special Order 40 in effect, the real level of illegal alien in crime is only a guess.
 In 2008 The City of San Francisco was found by Customs and Border Protection to be protecting young illegal alien Honduran crack dealers from federal immigration authorities. Also in 2008 the lack of local enforcement in San Francisco resulted in the slaughter of three members of the Bologna family by an illegal alien gang member well known to local authorities. With corruption like this in city governments, their crime reports cannot be believed.
The illegal, yet ubiquitous, phenomenon of so-called “sanctuary cities” signals to everyone in government and the criminal community that laws will not be enforced, which of course distorts crime reporting and results in F.B.I. crime stats that are nowhere near the truth. In many cases, cities and towns have one or more “colonias” where the police don’t patrol and only respond to the most visible, usually the most violent, crime scene.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick have both announced that they want to withdraw their states from Secure Communities as the State of Illinois has done. We can now coin a new term: Sanctuary States.
Illegal alien crime has been on the rise since the early 1990s. Just four years following the 1986 IRCA (immigration Reform and Control Act) Amnesty, citizens in southern California communities began to experience the effect of illegal alien crime, and that is where the anti-illegal immigration movement began in the country.
Anchor babies, the children born to illegal aliens, have added demographic fuel to crime in the country. The Hispanic fertility rate of 2.9 leads that of all groups, and the illegal alien Anchor-Baby-Boom has been building for two decades. In 2007, 4.3 million babies were born in the U.S., breaking the Post-World War II Baby Boom record set in 1957. This demographic surge, the result of citizen births, anchor-babies, and illegal immigration, is being reflected in an increase of crime in cities and towns regardless of police reporting.
At the federal level the underreporting of the crime of illegal immigration is the result of under enforcement.
In May of this year, Cochise County Arizona Sheriff Larry Dever testified to Congress that he had been told by Border Patrol agents, and by a supervisor, that they had been ordered to reduce and to sometimes stop apprehending illegal aliens.
The agents were told to Turn Back South, TBS, illegal aliens, which really means turn them to the east or west so they will eventually succeed with their illegal entry. TBS results in fewer apprehensions of illegal aliens the same way that the practice of “Sitting on Xs” reduced apprehensions during the Clinton and Bush Administrations. The agent was required to stay in his vehicle and radio in reports of illegal border jumpers, but not allowed to pursue them.
The underreporting of illegal immigration, the direct result of underenforcement, has allowed successive administrations to make the claim that the borders are more secure.
 In 2010 the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said of the U.S.-Mexican border, “I know that border I think as well as anyone, and I will tell you it is as secure now as it has ever been.” If “ever been” refers to the wide open border of the last 25 years, then she is right.
The government doesn’t want the people to know the level of illegal alien crime in the country because the voters would demand enforcement and un-elect public officials, replacing them with pro-enforcement candidates.
A Disastrous and Dangerous Result
A result of two decades of underreporting crime, non-enforcement of immigration and employment laws, and ignoring the southern border combined with the illegal alien Anchor Baby Boom is reported in the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ)’s National Drug Assessment for 2010.
According to the year-old DoJ report, 900,000 criminal members of 20,000 gangs run the illegal drug trade in 2,500 American cities. Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) operate in every region of the country, dominating all the other gangs.
And, many of their soldiers come from the ranks of the Anchor-Baby-Boom and operate in those very same areas the police don’t touch. The report states that, “Gang members who are U.S. citizens are a particularly valuable asset to Mexican DTOs because they can normally cross the U.S.–Mexico border with less law enforcement scrutiny and therefore are less likely to have illicit drug loads interdicted.”
The scope of the DTOs operating in American communities is astounding. And, it didn’t build to its current size overnight. It is the result of ignoring the illegal alien crime situation year after year after year and withholding it from the press and public view. And as a result we have an internal threat to our country that is staggering…and growing.
Getting an Honest Picture
Learning the truth about illegal alien crime, and all crime, begins with the individual American citizen. At the local level a Neighborhood Watch group can track incidents and then communicate with other groups in the community to spot trends, common denominators, and new crimes and then determine if the police are ignoring or investigating and reporting properly.

Getting Results in Immigration Enforcement

The most effective place to achieve results is at the state level. Years of efforts at the national level have produced no success in the enforcement of immigration and employment laws. State capitals are where the battle against immigration anarchy will be won or lost. Arizona has led the way in what many see as a states’ rights issue in immigration enforcement. Success in Missouri, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama (the list is growing) indicates that when the problem gets bad enough the government will act. But state legislators will not take action unless they have the clear and visible support of the people.
Underreporting of crime has lulled America into a sense of security that is about to be shattered by the coming, inevitable, increase in crime, and that includes illegal alien crime. Citizens must hold their elected officials’ feet to the fire if we are to prevent our cities and towns from sliding further into violent anarchy. The problem can be dealt with, but it won’t be an easy or quick fix. Finding out the truth about crime in your community is where it begins.

About the author

Rick Oltman has worked for immigration reform for almost twenty years. He has lobbied in Washington, D.C. and in dozens of state capitals for secure borders and immigration enforcement. He has been featured on PBS’s The Jim Lehrer News Hour, MSNBC Reports, CNN — including Talk Back Live, Lou Dobbs, and Anderson Cooper 360, FOX Business Channel and FOX News Channel, including Hannity & Colmes, The Big Story, In the Heartland, Cavuto on Business, Glenn Beck, Just In with Laura Ingraham, FOX and Friends, and many other interviews. In 1994 Rick was Chairman of the YES ON 187-SAVE OUR STATE campaign supporting poposition 187. In 2004 Rick worked with Arizona activists to qualify Proposition 200, Arizona’s state initiative that required proof of citizenship when voting or  applying for public benefits. Prop 200 won with 57 percent of the vote. Contact Rick at rickoltman @ comcast net.

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