Released following a request by The Daily Tribune News, the crime stats are those sent to the state and federal government as required by law.
"The [Federal Bureau of Investigation] maintains a database ...but they track what occurs locally as well as at the state and federal level," explained BCSO Public Information Officer and Investigator Sgt. Jonathan Rogers. "Every local agency, no matter how big or how small you are, reports yearly -- actually I think you submit it monthly -- and they track the number of crimes that are reported and then the number of juvenile arrests that are made."
Based on the information released by the BCSO, the following number of crimes were reported in 2011: homicide, 2; rape, 7; robbery, 37; aggravated assault, 195; simple assault, 1,057; burglary, 805; theft, 1,845; and motor vehicle theft, 191.
Questions were raised concerning the statistics because of an in-depth look at burglaries conducted by The Daily Tribune News in November. The BCSO reported for that investigation 854 burglaries from Jan. 1 to Nov. 15, 2011.
Based upon the average number of burglaries reported per day in that time period -- 2.68 -- an additional 123 burglaries would have occurred between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31, bringing the total close to 980 for 2011, or 175 more than released Monday.
Rogers said each incident filed with the BCSO is coded with two four-digit numbers, which notates the type of report under the government's uniform crime report system.
"I told you before that some of these might differ if you actually look in our database. There might be different numbers," he said. "Sometimes, I'm trying to think of a good example. Let's say a deputy responds to a fire call to assist the fire department and it's suspected to be arson but there's no proof that it's arson and the deputy can't say yes or no it is arson or it is not, he may just write it as an agency assist. Another agency may write that as an arson, so there's a discrepancy there. If it's written as an agency assist, it's not going to be on this report.
"Like I say there are different ways you can manipulate those numbers, and I have no idea what these numbers reflect."
Among the examples noted by Rogers was the county's two reported homicides, which initially were left off the list because the incidents had been labeled as death investigations.
"It's confusing. It's all part of a tracking system from local government all the way up to the federal level," he said, adding that the actual number of crimes could be higher or lower than listed. "These are not 100 percent accurate. I'm more accurate looking at my system and saying a deputy responded to this address."
Cartersville Police Department also released at the beginning of 2012 crime statistics for 2010 and 2011.
CPD PIO Lt. Mark Camp echoed Rogers' assertion that incidents may be coded with the wrong UCR number.
"A lot of times [differing statistics] can happen if a report is coded incorrectly; it may show up as another type of stat. Usually what happens, ... the officer will put a wrong code down, and if they miscode it, for example if they list a burglary as larceny, we'll get errors back. We get error reports from the state. We have to go back in and record them and resend them."
Cartersville Police Chief Tommy Culpepper said while the city's crime stats are not perfect he would estimate them to be 98 percent accurate.
"When we release ours, we do them directly from the data we have in our system. I don't how much the FBI sanitizes them," he said.
The FBI's Uniform Crime Report can be found online, and according to the agency's website, the primary objective of the UCR is to generate a reliable set of statistics to be used in law enforcement administration, operation and management,
"Law enforcement officials use this information for their designed purposes. Additionally, the American public relies on these data sets for information on the fluctuations in the level of crime from year to year, and criminologists, sociologists, legislators, city planners, the media and other students of criminal justice use them for a variety of research and planning purposes. Since crime is a sociological phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors, the FBI discourages ranking the agencies and using the data as a measurement of law enforcement effectiveness," the website states.
"To ensure these data are uniformly reported, the FBI provides contributing law enforcement agencies with a handbook that explains how to classify and score offenses and provides uniform crime offense definitions. Acknowledging that offense definitions may vary from state to state, the FBI cautions agencies to report offenses not according to local or state statutes but according to those guidelines provided in the handbook. Most agencies make a good faith effort to comply with established guidelines."
The UCR can be found online at http://www.fbi.gov/about--us/cjis/ucr/ucr. Crime statistics are available for 1995 through 2010, with only preliminary 2011 information available.