DETROIT — Detroit regained the title as the most violent big city in America in 2016, witnessing more murders last year than Los Angeles, which has four times as many people, according to new FBI crime figures released Monday.
But Detroit Police Chief James Craig disputed the FBI’s numbers, stating: “Just because it’s coming out of the FBI” doesn’t mean it’s accurate.
“I reject it,” Craig said of the FBI report, saying his own data using a new software system shows violent crime went down 5% in 2016, and, has been trending downward since 2013.
“I am confident the Detroit police crime statistics are very accurate,” Craig said at a press conference Monday.
Specifically, Craig took issue with the FBI’s number for aggravated assaults in Detroit, which he said is inflated by more than 1,000. According to the FBI data, Detroit saw 9,882 assaults in 2016, but the DPD data says there were 8,916.
According to the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime report, 13,705 violent crimes — including murders, rapes, assaults and robberies — were reported in Detroit last year. That’s a 15.7% increase from the year before, which saw 11,346 violent crimes in Detroit.
“We were transparent and honest when they were underreported,” Craig said, adding “and now we want to do the same thing.”
Craig said that DPD tried to alert the FBI about the mistake in assault numbers for 2016, but was told the reporting deadline had passed and that the CRISNET numbers would have to do.
“Over the last several of years we’ve had a number of calls with the FBI and Michigan State police. They know it,” Craig said, stressing the new report that ranks Detroit as most violent city is “very, very troubling.”
But he did not dispute the FBI’s homicide numbers for Detroit, which saw 303 homicides in 2016, compared with 295 the year before.
“I’ve said oftentimes that 300 murders is still too high for a city of our population,” Craig said. “But they is — since 2013, we continue to trend downward.”
Craig said Detroit’s crime reporting system had been a thorn in his side since he took over as chief in 2013. But fortunately, he said, there’s a new system in place that’s been overseen by Wayne State University crime statistic expert David Martin.
According to Craig, Martin scrubbed the old CRISNET system, fixed mistakes and plugged accurate numbers into the new system that shows a 5% decrease in violent crime.