Fort Pierce Police defend crime stat reporting

Violent; overall crime down in past decade

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - It’s been a week since former Fort Pierce police officer Keith Holmes filed a complaint against the city.  Among his laundry list of concerns, manipulating crime stats.  Tuesday, the department said that's not true.

“The department is doing the UCR coding to the best of our ability," said police spokesman Ed Cunningham.

UCR, or Uniform Crime Reporting codes have been in existence since 1929. It’s what 18,000 agencies around the country use. When the media began asking for an explanation in how crime was tracked in the city, a Fort Pierce police lieutenant explained that a UCR code is often different from a Florida State Statue.

For example, if someone snatches a woman’s purse off her shoulder, they could be charged with robbery.  But under the UCR code, it's only a theft.

In another example, if police find someone has been shot but that person does not cooperate, and no crime scene can be found, that is sometimes filed as an “information report.”

Statistics released by Fort Pierce Police Tuesday show a steady decline in violent, and overall crime in the city over the past decade.

“That is not because of the manipulation of the system, that is because of the good work of police officers on streets going out and getting to know people, working the community getting to find out what’s going on and putting a stop to some of the crimes that are out there," said Cunningham.

The department admits about a year ago, it looked at a small percentage of its approximately 10,000 reports from 2015 where it felt it was actually over-reporting crime.  Supervisors took the time to retrain officers on the intricacies of UCR.

The FDLE has said there is no investigation into the department.  The department would not comment on the complaint filed by the former officer, citing pending litigation.  The FBI would like to see all agencies move to a different tracking system by 2021.

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