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Wed, Jul. 21, 2004 

Report: Orange County Sheriff's Department underreported crimes

Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. - The Orange County Sheriff's Department failed to record as many 15,000 incidents between 2000 and 2003, potentially affecting the reported crime rates of a dozen cities, it was reported Wednesday.

Case numbers are issued whenever deputies respond to an incident. If a crime occurred, deputies are supposed to make logged reports. But in thousands of cases no report could be found, The Orange County Register said.

That failure meant some crimes were not sent to detectives for investigation, and some serious crimes never were noted when the department submitted its statistics to state and federal officials.

The underreporting was discovered in late 2002, officials said.

"We immediately notified the Department of Justice (and) we crafted the disclaimer that appeared on both their Web site and ours advising the public," Sheriff's spokesman Jon Fleischman said.

"At no time do we feel that this issue negatively impacted the safety of those in our service area," he said.

Mayors of some cities that pay millions of dollars a year for sheriff's services said they should have been notified personally of the mishandled reports.

"We should have known immediately," said Gail Reavis, mayor of Mission Viejo. "I think it's incumbent upon them to keep us abreast of this type of information."

It was unclear how the undercount affected the crime rates of the unincorporated county or the 12 communities that contract with the Sheriff's Department for police services.

The Register said sheriff's managers reported that less than 1 percent of the unreported cases involved serious crimes but acknowledged that the figures were unreliable.

The rate of serious crimes among acknowledged Sheriff's Department cases ran about 16 percent between 2000 and 2002. If the same rate applied to the unreported cases, it would add about 2,400 more incidents.

That would mean the crime rate in areas patrolled by sheriff's deputies would have jumped about 13.5 percent since 1999 instead of the reported 6 percent.

 Stats 1

Stats 2 - Professor William J.Chambliss

Stats 3

Stats 4

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