D.C. Police Technology Falters on Crime Statistics

December 18, 2012
By Daniel A. Gross on December 18, 2012 1:27 PM |

Has crime in Washington D.C. fluctuated at all in the past month? magnifyingglass.jpg

The Metropolitan Police Department wouldn't know because for months, a new data system has prevented the agency from accurately tallying its daily crime report numbers, according to the Washington Times.

The $1.8 million system, purchased last year in an effort to help the agency track and curb crime, has resulted in wildly skewed statistics - leaving the agency intelligence at a disadvantage and unsure of which areas in the city might require more police attention.

D.C. criminal defense lawyers
know that while this doesn't necessarily have a direct impact on those who are arrested, it's indicative of the fact that law enforcement technology is nowhere near perfect.

Neither are their investigations. Just look at the probe into the recent fatal shooting of a local 14-year-old and wounding of another teen. Initially, police arrested a 24-year-old on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault. At the same time, they issued a warrant for a 22-year-old man on the same charges. But days later, authorities dropped the charges against the 22-year-old, saying they were instead looking for an 18-year-old suspect.

For an innocent person to be wrongfully charged with murder - even if only for a few days - is an extremely rattling prospect. Too often, the cops get it wrong.

Everyone charged with a serious crime needs a lawyer, regardless of guilt. However, sometimes those who are innocent assume the truth will set them free. It's a nice sentiment, but it's a good way to spend 2013 in a jail cell. Even though the law presumes you are innocent until proven guilty, most often, you will need a good lawyer.

Meanwhile, Metro police are insisting that the technology glitch they are experiencing with their crime tracking isn't affecting their ability to respond to criminal activity as it happens. But when it comes to spotting trends or connecting similar incidents, it's been problematic.

The Times reports that the department had been using the newer system alongside the older system through September --the older system was officially retired in October. It was at that time that they began to see discrepancies in the number of crimes reported versus how many they believed had actually been committed.

The department has since stopped distributing a daily crime report to the media until the data system issues are resolved. This follows the two-time suspension this year of crime-mapping technology that allowed the public to review crime data throughout the city. Perhaps not coincidentally, both of these "black-outs" occurred during large spikes in violent crime.

Still, officials insist that once they work out all the bugs with their newest technology, it will allow them to enhance their intelligence and improve the effectiveness of their investigations.

If you have been arrested in Washington D.C., contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC at 202-596-5716 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:
D.C.'s daily crime report falls victim to technology, Dec. 4, 2012, By Andrea Noble, The Washington Times

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