Letter: Denial in the face of evidence
I was disheartened by Sherriff Wiggins’ remarks about the recent wave of protests across America. There is almost certainly more to it than race — many people are frustrated with the issues our society currently faces. But I feel that it is difficult to argue that continued racial inequity was not the spark and is not the primary issue. Denial in the face of overwhelming evidence is not an attractive quality, especially in our elected leaders.
I also wanted to point out that the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting, cited by Sherriff Wiggins in support of his assertions, is considered extremely unreliable by both law enforcement and crime researchers. Some years ago, I was a researcher for an institute at Colorado University that studied the roots and impacts of crime in America, especially violent crime. This FBI resource is anything but “uniform” and is woefully incomplete. Reporting of these data by law enforcement agencies is voluntary, and a significant number do not report (often because they see their data as embarrassing). In addition, what and how crimes are reported is unique to each agency; even the definitions of crimes can be different. For example, what is called “sexual assault” in one jurisdiction may be very different from another. The FBI tries to resolve all these differences to produce something that approaches “uniform,” but the term remains inaccurate and misleading in the extreme. The UCR is considered a “guide.”
Relying on FBI Uniform Crime Reporting is often used to purposefully misrepresent mere information as fact. It may be a fact that a set of data is based on information in the UCR, but such data must be kept in perspective. Although it is all we have got, the UCR is not a good source of the kind of information Sherriff Wiggins needs to support his assertions. Additionally, as a law enforcement professional, he should know it.
Howard Bashinski, Ph.D.
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