MATTHEWS, N.C. — An investigation into the Matthews Police Department found problems on how it reported crimes.
The police department listed several cases as “closed by other means” over a four-year period, investigators said.
Many of the cases that were closed did not go along with state and federal reporting standards, while breaking department policy, according to a news release by the Matthews Police Department.
The department was inflating how many cases it reported as cleared, according to the eight-month internal personnel investigation.
The inaccurate method showed a closed and cleared rate of more than 75%.
The investigation provided context with that high rate of closure.
“In the southeast United States in 2019, organization-wide case closure rates for violent crimes averaged 42.8% and case closure rates for property crimes averaged 17.8%, for a combined total of 18.3% across all categories,” according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting: 2019 Crime in the U.S. Report.
The Matthews Police Department’s annual reports and presentations also didn’t accurately show crime rates and “selectively highlighted positive data points that were misleading,” according to the news release.
“Publications and presentations on this data lacked disclosure regarding other factors that impacted reported crimes, in particular, changes in how some local retailers reported criminal activity and inconsistencies regarding how thefts from motor vehicles were categorized,” the news release stated.
The internal investigation was completed by US ISS Agency from May 2022 to December 2022 under the direction of Town Manager Becky Hawke.
“The Town of Matthews has been and continues to be a safe community. However, ISS’ investigation found that case closure rates and crime statistics were conveyed to the public in a way that directly linked results to the department’s stratified policing and problem-solving practices, including targeted crime reduction efforts by our police officers,” Hawke stated in the news release. “While these efforts likely had a positive impact, some statistics were not accurately portrayed, and the details did not tell the whole story.”
Steps have been taken to correct the issues with reporting the stats, according to the news release.
The police department is also looking into options for records management software to help support crime classifications and case statuses.
Corrected case closure rates and crime statistics will be published when they are completed, the police department stated.
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