Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), a member of a congressional committee that oversees the Justice Department, said that the FBI should restore crime data missing from its annual report for 2016 and that DOJ should “investigate who approved this change and why.”
The Trump administration’s focus on crime has made it all the more surprising that the FBI’s annual Crime in the United States report lacked a significant amount of data that experts have relied upon for years to assess crime trends, Mother Jones reports. Until this year, the report contained 81 tables that allowed researchers to track everything from the rate of violent crime to the racial breakdown of arrests. When the 2016 report came out in September, there were only 29 tables. The information needed to understand and verify the crime stats cited by the attorney general, as well as the work of local law enforcement, was harder to obtain. The decision to remove the data hampers the ability of criminologists and journalists to analyze crime trends as the administration is responding to rising violent crime. The FBI has claimed the move was part of a years-long process to revamp how it collects and disseminates crime data to the public. FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional panel this month that the missing tables will be added back into the latest report.
The Crime & Justice Research Alliance, representing criminologists, sent a letter to Wray, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and several members of Congress with oversight responsibilities for the Justice Department asking for the missing data to be restored. A House Judiciary Committee aide says the committee’s staff have helped “facilitate discussions between the Crime & Justice Research Alliance and the FBI.” Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), one of the lawmakers who received the letter from the Crime & Justice Research Alliance, said that the data should be returned to the report and that the Justice Department should “investigate who approved this change and why.”