New Jersey stopped or slowed releases & skipped periodic crime reports

The most recent Uniform Crime Report that is available to the public on the New Jersey State Police website shows data on the first quarter of 2021, and the last annual UCR is for 2020. Seven months into 2022, the statistics for 2021 remain unavailable.

Where data was once updated more frequently and compiled in annual reports released with some regularity, the public is now left in the dark by changes that slowed the disclosure of statistical information and eliminated periodic updates that became routine.

Authorities gave no explanation for these changes but users have noticed them.

“UCR data has been consistently published later since Phil Murphy became governor in 2017, compared with prior administrations,” said Lisa McCormick, who has noted that those reports show the vast majority of crimes reported to police remain unsolved. “At one point, the updates were frequent enough to show crime and arrests data as it happened, but it has been years since that was the case.”

UCR Books on a library shelf

The number of fatal car crashes and the body count from deadly collisions has increased for each of the last three years, according to information that up to date as of June 19, 2022, but there is no explanation about why the broader UCR data has been lagging.

Three-hundred people died in 289 crashes so far this year, numbers that surpass the 253 dead in 246 fatal auto collisions by this date in 2021 or the 215 people killed in 233 motor vehicle accidents in2019.

Data on carjacking offenses has not been updated since 2016 and domestic violence reports have not been posted online since 2019. Under state law, the Superintendent of the State Police is required “to compile and report annually to the Governor, the Legislature and the Advisory Council on Domestic Violence on the tabulated data from the domestic violence offense reports, classified by county.”

The State Police once made profiles of unidentified bodies recovered in New Jersey visible after cases had been entered into the National Crime Information Center (N.C.I.C.) computer database for possible matches against the list of missing persons.

If an individual was never reported as missing by any agency then there would be no match, so officials hoped placing these cases on the Internet could reach a more diversified audience that might have knowledge about the identification of any one of them.

The most recent of those records have not been updated in a decade and the oldest go back to 2005.

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of more than 17,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies that voluntarily share data on crimes reported to those authorities.

Since 1930, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has compiled the UCRs to serve as periodic nationwide assessments of reported crimes not available elsewhere in the criminal justice system.

The program’s primary objective is to generate reliable information for use in law enforcement administration, operation, and management; however, its data have over the years become one of the country’s leading social indicators.

Criminologists, sociologists, legislators, municipal planners, the media, and other students of criminal justice use the data for varied research and planning purposes.”

It is not clear whether the missing information is an attempt to coverup something, a reflection of the Murphy administration considers fighting crime a lower priority or merely an indiocation of incompetence among officials in the Department of Law and Public Safety, as questions about the matter have gone unanswered.

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