February 27, 2007
Mr. Thomas E. Bush III
Criminal Justice Information Services Division
Federal Bureau of Investigation
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, WV 26306
Dear Mr. Bush:
At the 75th Winter Meeting of The United States Conference of Mayors, held in Washington, DC on January 24-26, 2007, a serious issue was raised in the Criminal and Social Justice Committee meeting about the way in which FBI crime statistics are being misused by private concerns, and then inaccurately reported by the news media. This problem is doing real damage to U.S. cities and could jeopardize the FBI’s efforts to encourage cities to accurately count crime in a uniform way.
As you know, private companies repackage FBI crime data and release lists of what they consider to be the most dangerous cities in America. Because of the news media’s fixation on lists, these releases are widely reported on radio, television and newspapers across the country. This has gotten so out-of-hand that some ill-informed reporters have even reported in subsequent stories that such private lists come from the FBI itself.
We are concerned that a distortion of the facts could damage cities and hurt their efforts to rebuild their communities and attract new investment.
Mayors across the country feel strongly that crime should be counted and reported accurately and uniformly so we have the information needed to help make our cities safe.
We would like to work with you and the FBI Criminal Justice Information Uniform Crime Reporting Office to address this problem, and would like the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how this issue could be addressed. Please contact Ed Somers with the Conference staff . . . to further discuss this matter.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Douglas H. Palmer
Mayor of Trenton, NJ
Mayor of Rochester, NY
Cc: Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis