Since 1930, the FBI has been collecting data on the types, amounts, and impact of crime in the United States through the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. This program is the most reliable source of crime statistics for law enforcement administration, operation, and management. It is also used by researchers, politicians, and criminal justice professionals to gain a deeper understanding of crime and society1. Let’s take a closer look at how crime statistics are used and why they are important.
1. Predictive Policing
Crime statistics can be a tool in helping criminal justice professionals anticipate increased risk of crime. This can be followed up by law enforcement intervention to prevent the predicted crimes from occurring. The predictive policing data can help focus on a specific area and allow police resources to be used more effectively. However, the predictive value of crime statistics is debatable and still needs refinement. There have been several pilot projects using crime statistics to predict future crime, but the results have been inconclusive2. The goal is that with more work, crime statistics will become a tool to help decrease future crimes.
2. Improving Community Relations
Although statistics can’t be reliably used for predicting crime right now, national crime data is an excellent tool in helping to improve relations with the community. Making crime data public increases transparency. While it can open criminal justice professionals to scrutiny, it also allows for a dialogue between law enforcement and the public they serve. As with any other government agency, the public deserves to be informed about how well police are protecting the community3. Sharing crime statistics with the public increases trust in police and creates good working relationships.
3. Budget Formation
Budgets are a crucial part of law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels. Making sure enough money is allocated to the right locations and programs can make a big difference in keeping communities safe. Crime statistics are important in creating accurate budgets4. They can show where more resources are needed, as well as where fewer resources are needed as a community grows safer. Without statistics, it would be impossible to create appropriate law enforcement budgets.
4. Resource Allocation
Beyond just budgets, crime statistics are important in broader law enforcement resource allocation. For example, the data can be used to help determine which programs or communities will receive criminal justice grants. Crime statistics can also be used to determine where or when police officers will patrol based on areas or times that see higher crime5. While not going as far as predicting where crime will occur, the statistics do make it easier for criminal justice professionals to deploy their limited financial and personnel resources.
5. Initiative Assessment
Law enforcement initiatives are created to decrease crime. Crime statistics are important in determining whether these initiatives are working, or if changes are needed6. The data can show if crime is going up or down in the areas targeted. This can help criminal justice professionals understand whether their initiatives are successful.
Crime statistics are just one important criminal justice tool. If a career in criminal justice interests you, then a BS in Criminal Justice can be a great way to pursue your goal. Earning your bachelor’s in criminal justice from an accredited online college can give you the skills and knowledge you need to prepare for a career in law enforcement, the justice system, corrections, homeland security, or social services. Plus, earning a degree online allows you to complete your coursework at a pace that is right for you. It can be the perfect fit for someone looking to make a change to a career in criminal justice.
The value of crime statistics is not fully known, but there is no doubt that the data is important. Whether it is used to help efficiently deploy resources or assess the programs that are underway, it is critical. A BS in Criminal Justice can be the perfect way to learn to better use crime statistics to make communities safer.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Criminal Justice degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
1 Source: www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr
2 Source: https://sunlightfoundation.com/2015/04/29/the-benefits-of-data-in-criminal-justice-improving-policing/
3 Source: https://sunlightfoundation.com/2015/04/30/the-benefits-of-data-in-criminal-justice-improving-police-community-relations/
4 Source: https://ucr.fbi.gov/ucr-statistics-their-proper-use
5 Source: www.nap.edu/read/23492/chapter/5 - 89
6 Source: https://ucr.fbi.gov/ucr-statistics-their-proper-use
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.