Starting this past Monday, the New York City Police Department has begun providing data on misdemeanor crimes on the official NYPD website. The information on misdemeanor crimes and violations will serve to supplement statistics on major crimes already available on the Department’s website. One driving force behind the release of this new data was a perception from some analysts that New York’s declining felony rate was due to an increase in the downgrading of certain crimes from felony to misdemeanor. Paul Browne, a police spokesperson, noted the symmetrical decline between felonies and misdemeanors over the past decade as evidence that this was not the case. “This contradicts assertions that felony crime statistics declined as a result of downgrading to misdemeanors, which would have experienced corresponding increases,” Browne said.
While some critics of the move have called for an independent, external audit of crime statistics, this move by the NYPD is certainly a step in the direction of public disclosure of a broader range of crime statistics available to the general public.
Answering Critics, Police Release Minor-Crime Data New York Times, Al Baker, December 28, 2010