Officials in Columbus, Indiana are disputing a recent article that says violent crime in the city is “soaring.”
The article was orginally posted online and has since been picked up by several national publications. It is based on FBI crime statistics which show Columbus violent crime increased by more than 70 percent between 2007 and 2012.
“My first reaction was surprise and shock because I knew that what was being reported was inaccurate,” said Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix.
Maddix and other city leaders say the FBI statistics cited in the report are flawed.
“We use a software system, a records management system to code the Uniform Crime Reports for us,” Maddix said. “And there was an error with that.”
The error, Maddix said, caused Aggravated Assaults to be coded incorrectly, and therefore under reported up until 2010. When the mistake was fixed, it gave the appearance of a large increase the following year. But the actual increase never really happened.
Maddix said the Aggravated Assaults were probably being mistakenly coded as other non-violent offenses.
The original article, posted on the website of 24/7 Wall Street, prompted a strong reaction from Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown a couple weeks ago.
“On a relative basis, our city is extremely safe,” Brown said in a statement. “We have made cutting both violent crime and property crime our top priority.”
The statement from the city also said “In the past two years, violent crime in the City of Columbus has decreased by 6 percent. Property crime has decreased by 18 percent.”
“Our violent crime rate is less than half the national average,” Maddix said. “We’re very proud of that. And we plan to keep it that way.”
While the orginal mistake was made by the Columbus Police Department, Maddix said he and other city leaders have made efforts to correct the mistake in the articles based on the FBI statisitcs. He said they have not received much response when requesting a correction or retraction.