A city auditor report says the Dallas Police Department's crime statistics are "substantially correct," but the reporting system could use some improvements.
A number of Dallas Morning News stories since September 2009 have questioned Dallas police's new crime-reporting policies, suggesting the new policies were artificially deflating a high Dallas crime rate.
But a report from city auditor Craig Kinton that was released Monday said the department's statistics for 2008 are "substantially correct" despite a new policy that "may result in incomplete and/or inaccurate" crime reporting.
The report recommended police follow a more strict interpretation of federal guidelines and "enter all calls or complaints reported."
Currently, a patrol officer or expediter determines if enough evidence exists to determine a crime has been committed before the incident is included. The audit said waiting can result in incomplete and/or inaccurate statistics if complaints are not fully investigated or if the police report doesn't have enough information to make an offense determination.
But Dallas police officials say the city had been improperly over-reporting crime in past years.
"We believe that we should investigate an offense and come to a conclusion that we believe that there's a likelihood that an offense occurred before we report it as being one," said Deputy Chief Randy Blankenbaker.
The auditor's report found that about 20 percent of 60 randomly selected auto burglary reports were incorrectly filed.
Senior Cpl. Eddie Crawford, a Dallas Police Association vice president, said the figure is an area for concern.
"I think 20 percent is too high," he said. "Three percent would be acceptable."
The audit also found that 18 percent of 60 randomly selected thefts were incorrectly identified. Statistical samples of other crime categories had very few to no errors.
Blankenbaker said errors discovered by auditors were quickly corrected and that police are reviewing the current Dallas policy again with federal officials to be certain that it complies with national crime-reporting standards.
Dallas police brass said city auditors support their program overall. The audit said the department is reporting crime in "good faith."
"They believe that we substantially report crime correctly and we make a good faith effort to do so," Blankenbaker said.
"It's probably somewhere in the middle," Crawford said. "There was high reporting in previous times, and there was under-reporting this time."