The Los Angeles Police Department incorrectly reported 14,000 assaults as minor offenses between 2005 and 2012, according to a new report, making the city’s crime rate look significantly lower than it really is.
The Los Angeles Times analyzed eight years of LAPD crime data and found that aggravated assaults had been routinely classified as “simple assaults” and therefore weren’t counted in the city’s numbers tallying violent crime.
L.A.P.D officials acknowledged the botched reporting and said they were working to make the department’s reporting more reliable. “We know this can have a corrosive effect on the public’s trust of our reporting,” Asst. Chief Michel Moore, who oversees the LAPD’s system for tracking crime, told the newspaper. “That’s why we are committed to … eliminating as much of the error as possible.”
Reclassifying the incidents increases the number of violent crimes in L.A. by 7% and makes the number of serious assaults 16% higher than originally reported, according to the Times. The reclassified numbers, however, do not affect the overall downward trend in crime throughout the city.
The Times launched a similar investigation last year involving 2013 crime statistics and found similar errors. An internal LAPD audit released last week found that serious assaults in 2014 had also been misclassified. The review found that the number of aggravated assaults was 23% higher in 2014 than previously reported.