Consider the following crime senario: a man walks into a bank, kills the clerk, steals money and flees in a stolen car.
In the Uniform Crime Report of the heist, only the homicide will be considered, with the bank robbery and stolen-car becoming ignored elements of the incident. The suspect will still be arrested for and face charges locally for the lesser crimes. But the information is not passed on to other agencies via the crime report."In today's . . . system, they would lose two of those crimes - they wouldn't report them at all," said Ashton Flemmings, one of eight trainers for the Criminal Justice Information Services Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
When law enforcement leaders called for a uniform method of tracking crime between jurisdiction in the early 1930s, they likely realized the system would require expansion down the line.
That time is now, at a period when law enforcement is placing more emphasis on the situation of the crime and the relationship between the offender and victim.
"In the 60 years subsequent, the shift has been, `Oh yeah, we have got victims, too.' " said Dave Doepner, an analyst for the Salt Lake City Police Department. The traditional system was constructed to keep track of the offenders, not the specifics of the crime scene or victim, he said.
Policing agencies have realized that a record of the entire crime scenario is important in establishing trends and understanding the true picture of crime nationwide.
"It's going to be providing data in crime relationships," Doepner said. "There's definitely been a need for that information."
For victims of assault at the workplace, a change is welcome from what police call a summary-based system - one where only the end product is reported in the Uniform Crime Report - to the newly developed incident-based system, where the scenario of the crime takes precedence and the data provides for accurate crime intelligence.
"In the new crime reporting, all . . . information will be available," said Anthony Pinizzotto, a forensic psychologist with the FBI. "We will be taking the location of the crime, matching that to the victim and the extent of injury, what type of instrument is used.
"At the present time with the summary system, we get only aggregate data and we don't match all those various elements of the crime," he said. "Even though that's available in the police report, it comes to us in collapsed numbers."
Currently, little or no information exists that cross references assault and the workplace.
How many Utah workers were assaulted on the job in 1992, or any year? It's hard to tell.
Not the U.S. Department of Justice, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigations, local law enforcement agencies or even industry organizations have a true picture of the situation. Any data available usually comes from a random sampling of the populace, not from true police figures.
Separate statistics are available for the total number of assaults in Utah and for the number of workers injured at the workplace. There is no data to cross reference the information.
Lisa Durham, formerly an accountant in New York, went looking for statistics on work-related assaults after she was attacked by a co-worker. Finding nothing, she rallied for the need to combine the existing method of reporting crime, with more information about the victim.
"The first thing I did was try to get a statistic, and . . . I couldn't get that - that I thought was bad," she said. "I was in shock that nothing was available. And, of course, I did find there was limited things available, but you had to know where to get them and nobody knew where to get them. It was very, very frustrating."
Flemmings travels the country for the FBI, teaching agencies about the new system.
"We find people are ecstatic about it," he said. Some 13 states are in the process of testing the system and others are struggling to locate the funding needed to train officers, purchase new software and redesign forms and reporting methods. Flemmings recently returned from Arkansas and Texas. Arkansas is in the process of implementing the system statewide, he said.
In Utah, six agencies reported their 1992 data according to the new system. The state will likely be in transition between the two methods for years, as smaller agencies develop the resources to participate.
Law enforcement "needs a lot more current information that addresses criminal justice issues in today's world, such as drugs, terrorism, crimes against the elderly, and juvenile crimes," he said.
Cab industry researching safety equipment
For cab drivers, an increase in victimization has led industry leaders to research new safety equipment.
"Crime is clearly escalating," said Alfred LaGasse, executive vice president of the International Taxicab and Livery Association, headquartered in Kensington, Md.
The industry is currently involved in two crime prevention projects, both aimed at protecting the cabbies.
Research is underway by an outside expert to study the level of violence toward taxi drivers and to profile the perpetrators and situations. The information will allow cab drivers to determine high-hazard periods and places.
A second project, the design of a better shield between the driver and passenger, calls for development of a device that will encourage communication, but protect the cabbie from a potentially dangerous rider.
How to attract convenience-store robbers
A remote location, single clerk on duty and no customers in the vicinity are the characteristics that make convenience stores most attractive to would-be robbers, a 1986 Florida survey says.
In a study of convenience store robberies, R. Swanson submitted his data in an unpublished report to the Gainesville (Fla.) Police Department.
Swanson interviewed 65 inmates in four prisons across Florida. The prisoners were all convicted of convenience-store-related crime and provided the characteristics that dissuade or encourage such incidents.
The information was published in a 1993 report by the Virginia Crime Prevention Center of the Department of Criminal Justice Services in Richmond.
Store characteristics deemed least appealing to robbers include:
- many customers
- heavy traffic flow in front of the store
- two clerks
- a back room
- one-way mirrors
- limited escape route
- clear visibility into the store
- stores that sell gas
Store characteristics considered most appealing to robbers include:
- remote location
- only one clerk on duty
- no customers
- easy access/getaway
- lots of cash
- female clerk
- no back room
- obstructed windows
- type of safe
- no alarm