July 26, 2021 13:10

Do You Trust What You Read About Crime And Cops And the Justice System?


In my opinion, most of what I read about cops and crime and the justice system is advocacy.

When it comes to objectivity, there are an endless variety of crime-related organizations offering data that only fits their preconceived views.

It’s a collective sense that we can’t trust what we are reading from many sources, including research summations.


The issue is crime-related media and research objectivity with Pew used as one example.

There are multiple times when I appreciate the Pew Research Center for its data. I also understand that Pew is a self-described advocacy organization promoting a “progressive” point of view as to crime policies, Pew.

Pew has the power to influence; their research powers dozens of major media news reports.

The larger question is whether there is anyone publishing crime data that is truly objective and nonpartisan. Beyond a few academic research centers and federal agencies, I believe the list is sparse. In my opinion, most of what I read about crime or cops is advocacy.

America’s Hope For An Objective Media Is All But Lost (direct quotes)

From the Knight Foundation: But in a new Gallup/Knight study, we’ve found the gap is growing between what Americans expect from the news and what they think they are getting. Perceptions of bias are increasing too, which further erodes the media’s ability to deliver on its promise to our democracy.

The landmark poll of 20,000 people found that Americans’ hope for an objective media is all but lost. Instead, they see an increasing partisan slant in the news, and a media eager to push an agenda. As a result, the media’s ability to hold leaders accountable is diminished in the public’s eye.

Eight in 10 Americans say that when they suspect an inaccuracy in a story, they worry it was intentional —because the reporter was misrepresenting the facts (52%) or making them up (28%). Only 18% say they think the inaccuracies were innocent mistakes. And when it comes to news sources they distrust, nearly three-quarters of Americans (or 74%) say those outlets are trying to persuade people to adopt a certain opinion.

In my opinion, the mistrust of the American public towards media and the data they use is my biggest disappointment in this political year. In my thirty-five years of federal and state media relations for the justice system, I was guided by journalistic and academic guidelines insisting on objectivity. That era seems to be at an end.

A 28 Percent Rise In Violent Crime

Pew issued a report that provides an overview of crime and fear of crime much like the one offered by this site, Crime in America.

The problem? It ignores the 28 percent rise in violent crime since 2015 and the increase in serious violent crime as documented by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice through the National Crime Victimization Survey, Crime in America.

Beyond one small chart (without explanation), there isn’t a hint of the rise in national violent crime since 2015 or the astounding increases in homicides and aggravated assaults in 2020 with documented billions of dollars in losses due to riots and looting.

Violence-The Same As Cancer Or COVID 

There are endless studies documenting that violent crime destroys cities, education, economic development, jobs, personal development, and basic human rights.

Violent crime is like a disease that dismantles everything it touches including the well-being of children and residents.

So in an overview of crime in the US, we are going to ignore increases in violence since 2015 and the current impact of rising violence in cities?

An Overview Of Violent Crime

Every time I use US Department Of Justice data stating that that violent crime and serious violent crime increased since 2015 there is someone who sends me a report from Pew stating it hasn’t.

Critics insist that violent crime is down per historical trends before 2015. Detractors say that the increase in violence in 2020 is overblown. Some insist that per FBI data (the 41 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement) violence has decreased substantially.

Thus we have a fundamental question, which holds more importance, a 28 percent increase in all violent crime (including simple assaults) per the National Crime Survey (2015-2018), and the presumption that this applies to 2019 (no change in violent crime in 2019 when including simple assaults per BJS), a tripling of violent crime per Gallup, endless media reports of vastly increasing urban violence in 2020 after the lockdowns, a rise in homicides and aggravated assaults in 2019 per the Major Cities Chiefs Association, a considerable and recent rise in homicides, aggravated assaults and robberies after the lockdowns by the University of Missouri, and considerable increases in homicides and violence by COVID and Crime…


…data from the FBI documenting that overall crime was flat (decreased 0.4 percent) for the first six months of 2020 but with increases in aggravated assaults and homicides? Per the FBI, in 2018 there was a decrease in violence of 3.3 percent. It decreased again by 0.5 percent in 2019, indicating possible growth, Crime in America.


Most data from Pew needs consideration; they are good researchers. I’ve been in meetings in Washington, D.C. with Pew representatives where research that was not necessarily supportive of their platforms was published regardless. That’s integrity. That’s objectivity.

But when it comes to objectivity, there are an endless variety of crime-related organizations offering data that only fits their preconceived view of the world. Much of it is simply misleading.

It’s not just the media, it’s a collective sense that we can’t trust what we are reading or seeing from many sources, including research. If you only publish data that fits your stated views, can it be embraced?

For those of us who have spent decades in the justice system, we understand victimization and the immense harm it does because we have seen it first hand.

Ignoring a 28 percent increase in violent crime since 2015 or increasing serious violence or skyrocketing violent crime in 2020 hurts everyone. In my opinion, it’s insensitive to the plight of suffering people.

Source for Pew’s Report.

See More

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.

US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.

National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.

The Crime in America.Net RSS feed (https://crimeinamerica.net/?feed=rss2) provides subscribers with a means to stay informed about the latest news, publications, and other announcements from the site.


Contact us at leonardsipes@gmail.com.

My book based on thirty-five years of criminal justice public relations,” Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization” available at Amazon.

 Reviews are appreciated

Author information

Leonard Sipes

Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. – Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Aspiring drummer.

Contact: leonardsipes@gmail.com.

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