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St. Louis police fail to report crime data for months

Crime scene tape
Posted at 11:47 AM, Jun 21, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Changes in the way St. Louis police record crime statistics have prevented the department from publicly publishing crime data for nearly six months, officials said.

The problem is related to a switch the department made in December to a new way of tracking crime, the National Incident-Based Reporting System. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the change was made to comply with new FBI reporting requirements. The FBI has said it required the change to help it improve the statistics it keeps and offer a more complete picture of crime.

The city is still working on a way to resume publishing monthly incident data. Switching to the new reporting system required an overhaul of the department's records software. The city started taking bids on that job in 2019 and hired a company to install new software in 2019.

Police department spokeswoman Michelle Woodling said the project to report data publicly using the new system is behind schedule. But she said anyone can still request crime data under public records laws.

Researcher Christopher Prenner, who is a sociologist at St. Louis University, said the department used to have better transparency than most other police agencies in the region.

"I think it's an important part of open government to make sure that that transparency continues," Prenner said. "It's about making sure that the public knows about more than just what the crime reporters are able to get to or what comes on the scanner to show the larger trends, it's especially important in a city like St. Louis where crime is as high as it is."