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I'm always stressing the disconnect
between UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting)
and prosecution, because you'll be
working with police officers, and
supervisors, who just never seem to get
it.  Once you clearly understand the
separation, you'll be frustrated with the
seeming inability of others to understand
that separation.  Some police officers will
even argue with prosecutors over criminal
charges because of a UCR classification.  
When the officer is met with a blank look
from the prosecutor, the officer will go
away angry complaining about the
prosecutor's incompetence or lack of
interest.  The prosecutor couldn't care
less about UCR crime classifications,
because UCR has nothing to do with
prosecution.

Here's a scenario which should make the
separation crystal clear.  As a police
officer you'll be executing a lot of arrest
warrants.  Once you serve an arrest
warrant, it will be your responsibility to
write a police report to document the
service of the warrant.  If the original
offense occurred in your jurisdiction,
you'll document the service in a follow-up
report to the original report.   In this
scenario, you receive an arrest warrant
for an armed robbery; whereupon, you
locate and arrest the suspect named in
the warrant.  However, when you try to
locate the original robbery report, you
discover that no police report of the
robbery was ever made.  Unfortunately,
most police officers will simply take the
path of least resistence by writing a
miscellaneous report of service and leave
it at that.
Since you're not one of most, you decide
to locate the victim of the robbery to
determine why the crime was never
reported.  You're pleased to learn that
the unreported crime was not due to a
police officer downgrading a crime.  In
fact, the victim never even contacted or
involved police in any way.  The victim in
this scenario knew the suspect's name,
age, and residence.  Immediately
following the offense, the victim
responded directly to the appropriate
court official where he wrote a statement
of probable cause and submitted it to the
court commissioner, magistrate, etc. for
review.  The court official reviewed the
probable cause, determined the
appropriate criminal charge(s), and
issued an arrest warrant for the
suspect/defendant.  The arrest warrant
subsequently came into your possession
for service.   

As far as the robbery incident in this
scenario is concerned, the prosecution
phase is a done deal.  The prosecutor will
plea bargain or prosecute this case solely
on the contents of the victim's probable
cause statement.  So... why should you
go to the trouble of investigating and
reporting a crime that's already been
solved and in the criminal justice pipeline
awaiting adjudication?  The answers are
really pretty simple.  First, it's your job to
investigate and document crimes
committed in your area of responsibility.  
Second, while the crime is in the pipeline,
it never traveled through your portion of
the pipeline where the crime is counted
by UCR.  Third, and most importantly,
your investigation will give police
knowledge of the crime, and your
investigation could produce even more
evidence in support of the victim's
allegations.  Beyond that, the suspect in
the robbery could well be responsible for
other previously reported robberies, and
your investigation could solve those
crimes resulting in additional charges
against the suspect.

You might be asking, "How could the
victim skip reporting the robbery and go
directly to the court?"  Again, police and
courts are separate entities.  If you ever
attend a court proceeding held in a
courtroom which is housed within, or
adjacent to, a police facility, the judge will
probably open the session with a
statement explaining that the court is in
no way part of the police department.  
When it comes to reporting crime,
there's no law requiring you to first
report the crime to police.  When it
comes to prosecution, the statement of
probable cause is, and will always
continue to be, the key document for any
prosecution.  A probable cause
statement can be prepared and
submitted by either a police officer or the
victim of the crime in question.  

While the process for reporting crime in
every state encourages the public to first
call police, that step can be bypassed.  
Some states just make it easier than
others.  In Maryland for example, the
District Court of Maryland makes court
commissioners available on a 24/7 basis
usually located within police facilities
where they're available to police officers
and the public alike.

Just remember that your responsibility to
UCR is part of a process... but a separate
part of the process.     
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"Once you clearly understand the
separation, you'll be frustrated with
the seeming inability of others to
understand that separation.  Some
police officers will even argue with
prosecutors over criminal charges
because of a UCR classification."
~ Barry M. Baker
UCR and
Prosecution
Copyright © 2017  Barry M. Baker  
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