Mpls has been overreporting rapes to feds

The MPD reported that one out of every 1,000 women in the city was raped in 2011, the highest rate in the nation.
The MPD reported that one out of every 1,000 women in the city was raped in 2011, the highest rate in the nation.
Image by Tatiana Craine

If you judged by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, you'd think Minneapolis has been the national leader in "forcible rapes" (it's a real statistical category, not just the brainchild of Paul Ryan) since 2007.

SEE ALSO: Minneapolis guns incidents, violent crime crept up in 2012

But you shouldn't judge by those numbers. Because according to a Star Tribune report, the city has been over-reporting rapes for years.

However, had the city reported rapes in the same way other cities do, Minneapolis would still have one of the highest rates in the country. From the Strib:

[T]he Minneapolis Police Department has included a much broader range of sexual assaults in the rape numbers provided to the FBI since at least 2004.

The head of the city's sex crimes unit, Cmdr. Nancy Dunlap, says it more accurately represents sexual violence and, in fact, the FBI recently asked all cities to report this category of crime in that way.

Taking the 30 percent reduction [in other words, adjusting Minneapolis's numbers to account for the definitional difference] into account, Minneapolis would still be among the top five cities in the country for reported rapes over the last several years, an analysis shows.

Dunlap told the Strib that adjusting the city's "rape" definition simply "wasn't the biggest issue on our plate." But it turns out the city may have had financial reasons for overreporting. More from the Strib:

Minneapolis has received as much as $6.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance since 2009.

Alexia Cooper, a statistician with the Department of Justice, said that if Minneapolis hadn't reported its rape numbers, it could have lowered that amount, but couldn't say by how much because of how the funding formula works.

"It's a little bit simplistic," she said. "But report fewer crimes, get less money."

An FBI spokesman said there are no penalties for providing incorrect data, and it will not ask the city to correct its numbers.

In any event, with the FBI recently asking law enforcement officials across the country to change their definition of "rape" along the lines of how the MPD has been doing it, whatever underhanded comparative advantage Minneapolis may have had in the hunt for federal dollars should soon be a thing of the past.

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