NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 13, 2009

The Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) online crime map intended for public use has failed to include nearly 40 percent of serious crimes reported in the city, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The omissions, which date back at least six months, include thousands of crimes known to LAPD officials and are included in their official crime statistics.

Among the 19,000 incidents between Jan. 1 and June 13 that do not appear at

  • 26 homicides.
  • 137 rapes.
  • 10,766 personal, vehicle or other nonviolent thefts.

The lapses mean that the map, touted by city leaders as an important and innovative resource for city residents to determine whether their neighborhoods are safe, presents a drastically incomplete image of city crime.  The Times discovered the magnitude of the problem while developing its own online map to display LAPD data.  Comparing the LAPD map with the department's official totals revealed that thousands of crimes through mid-June were missing:

  • The department's official crime tally recorded more than 52,000 serious crimes this year.
  • But the database on the public mapping site contained fewer than 33,000 for the same period.

Among the omissions, caused by a programming error, were more than a thousand violent robberies, including two out of seven street robberies committed in April and May by men posing as police officers.  This week, the LAPD added about 20,000 crimes from 2009 to data it provides the Times.  But as of late Wednesday, those additions had yet to appear on the LAPD map.

The public map, which includes an e-mail notification service, was created as part of an overhaul of the LAPD's website funded with $362,000 raised by the Los Angeles Police Foundation.

Source: Ben Welsh and Doug Smith, "LAPD's public database omits nearly 40 percent of this year's crimes," Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2009.


Browse more articles on Government Issues