Why "Our Police Are The Hammers and We Are The Nails" Has Failed

Why "Our Police Are The Hammers and We Are The Nails" Has FailedResearch shows that arrests for serious crimes are quite rare. Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

As Americans across the nation protest police violence, people have begun to call for cuts or changes in public spending on police. But neither these nor other proposed reforms address a key problem with solving crimes.

My recent review of 50 years of national crime data confirms that, as police report, they don’t solve most serious crimes in America. But the real statistics are worse than police data show. In the U.S. it’s rare that a crime report leads to police arresting a suspect who is then convicted of the crime.

The data show that consistently over the decades, fewer than half of serious crimes are reported to police. Few, if any arrests are made in those cases.

In reality, about 11% of all serious crimes result in an arrest, and about 2% end in a conviction. Therefore, the number of people police hold accountable for crimes – what I call the “criminal accountability” rate – is very low.

Many crimes aren’t reported

Police can only work on solving crimes they are aware of, and can only report statistics about their work based on criminal behavior they know about. But there is a huge slice of crime police never find out about.

By comparing surveys of the public with police reports, it’s clear that less than half of serious violent felonies – crimes like aggravated assault and burglary – ever get reported to the police.

Real arrest rates

In 2018, the rate of arrest for serious felony crimes reported to police was about 22%. But because twice as many crimes happen as the police find out about it, the arrest rate for all crimes that happened was half what police reported – just 11%.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Real conviction rates

The official percentage of serious crimes where a person is actually convicted is even lower, though data is hard to confirm. The Bureau of Justice Statistics has not reported national conviction rates for serious crimes since 2006 – but in that year, out of all serious crimes reported to the police, only 4.1% of cases ended with an individual convicted in the wake of a reported crime.

Again, taking into account the fact that twice as many crimes happen, the national conviction rate in 2006 was actually closer to 2%.

Resolving crimes without arrests

There are ways police resolve conflicts and crimes without arresting people – for instance, by mediating neighborhood disputes and directing wayward young people to social services and community programs. But so long as police departments measure success by arrests, that won’t happen more widely.

When considering approaches to police reform, it’s important to remember that Americans still don’t report about half of major crimes – and police don’t solve very many of the cases that do get reported. Truly improving policing will require addressing these two gaps.The Conversation

About the Author

Shima Baughman, Professor of Criminal Law, University of Utah

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

You May Also Like

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Marie T. Russell's Daily Inspiration

INNERSELF VOICES

full moon over a hot air balloon
Fear Unceasing or Life Abundant? Blue Moon Cycle in Aquarius
by Sarah Varcas
The period beginning with this first full moon (24 July 2021) and ending with the blue moon (22…
Horoscope Week: July 19 - 25, 2021
Horoscope Current Week: July 19 - 25, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
photo of stinging nettle flowers
Have You Talked to the Weeds in Your Garden Lately?
by Fay Johnstone
As an herbalist I have a very different view of weeds than the average gardener who can’t abide…
The Four Communication Rules and Violations, with an Emphasis on Listening
The Four Communication Rules and Violations, with an Emphasis on Listening
by Jude Bijou
I've found all good communication boils down to just four simple rules. Whether it's with our…
picture of a man writing on sheets of paper
Channeling As A Healing Tool and Its Impact On Grief
by Matthew McKay, PhD.
When my boy died, I had no belief that the dead could talk to us. At best, they seemed gone in…
Digital Distraction and Depression: The 21st Century Scourges
Digital Distraction and Depression: The 21st Century Scourges
by Amit Goswami, Ph.D.
We now have ever-expanding ways to distract and consume attention through the new digital opiate of…
holding up a mask of a man's face
Is There a Right Way of Interpreting Dreams?
by Serge Kahili King
When you give others the authority to interpret your dreams, you are buying in to their beliefs,…
Is the Emotion of Fear Strongly Related to Cancer?
Are Fear and Cancer Strongly Related?
by Tjitze de Jong
The emotional charge of fear is a huge one. It is the emotion I come across more than any other in…

MOST READ

A line of police with riot shields on the street cast shadows onto the asphalt
What do police actions do to community health?
by Jake Ellison-U. Washington
A new conceptual model depicts the complex relationship between policing and population health.
Flea Collar Chemicals Are Poisoning Kids and Pets
Flea Collar Chemicals Are Poisoning Kids and Pets
by Miriam Rotkin-Ellman and Tom Hucker
All of us want to keep our children and pets safe. So, what do we do when EPA allows the sale of…
Being Cinderella: Believing in the Chance for Change
Being Cinderella: Believing in the Chance for Change
by Wendy Paris
When the fairy godmother appeared, Cinderella had the courage to seize an opportunity to change.…
Is the Emotion of Fear Strongly Related to Cancer?
Are Fear and Cancer Strongly Related?
by Tjitze de Jong
The emotional charge of fear is a huge one. It is the emotion I come across more than any other in…
Is the Emotion of Fear Strongly Related to Cancer?
Are Fear and Cancer Strongly Related? (Video)
by Tjitze de Jong
The emotional charge of fear is a huge one. It is the emotion I come across more than any other in…
Are You A Creator or A Victim?: As We Think, So Shall We Feel
Are You A Creator or A Victim?: As We Think, So Shall We Feel
by Dr. Paula Sunray
We can't be feeling what we are feeling unless we are "thinking" it. First we have to think and…
Australia's Farmers Want More Climate Action – And They’re Starting In Their Own Backyards
Australia's Farmers Want More Climate Action – And They’re Starting In Their Own Backyards
by Richard Eckard, The University of Melbourne
The National Farmer’s Federation says Australia needs a tougher policy on climate, today calling on…
A young woman by herself in a hospital room
Eating disorder hospitalizations spiked during pandemic
by Beata Mostafavi, University of Michigan
The number of adolescents admitted to the hospital for severe illness from eating disorders…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.