Methodology

Background

Since 1997, the Seattle Police Department has made our crime statistics available to the public as Uniform Crime Reports. As of January 2015, we have switched to a reporting format that is based on our General Offense (GO) Reports.

Current Methodology

General Offense Reports are calculated by the reports that officers take when responding to an incident.
The advantage of using General Offense (or GO) Reports to calculate crime statistics are:

  • Faster information - SPD GO data is updated on an on-going monthly basis and replaces previous data to reflect classification changes, investigative updates, and reporting delays. 
  • Uses the numbers the police use - GO crime incident data mirrors the major crime categories that SPD uses to identify, respond, and assess effectiveness in addressing community crime problems. 

Things to keep in mind about General Offense Reports:

  • The data is dynamic and will change throughout the year based on any updates that happen between taking the report, transcription, and investigative follow-up. 
  • The numbers won't match one-to-one when you compare these to UCR numbers. FBI UCR uses a set of classification rules and guidelines that differ from the crime dashboard data, e.g., report date vs. occurrence date, person count vs. incident count, and static data that does not refresh to reflect on-going changes. Accordingly, the two data sets should NOT be used for comparative purposes.

WHICH CRIMES ARE WE REPORTING?

Just like the UCR reports, the Offense Reports used are the Major Crimes.  These are comprised primarily of serious felonies. The term "Major Crimes" is interchangeable with Index Crimes or Part I Crimes. These are also NIBRS compliant definitions

  • Homicide (Includes Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter)
    • Murder - The willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. 
    • Negligent Manslaughter The killing of another person through negligence. 
  • Rape Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.
  • Robbery The taking or attempting to take anything of value under confrontational circumstances from the control, custody, or care of another person by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear of immediate harm. 
  • Aggravated Assault An unlawful attack by one person upon another wherein the offender uses a weapon or displays it in a threatening manner, or the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness. 
  • Burglary/Breaking & Entering The unlawful entry into a building or other structure with the intent to commit a felony or a theft. 
  • Larceny/Theft Offenses The unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession or constructive possession of another person.  Motor Vehicle Theft The theft of a motor vehicle.  

What is calculated and what is not calculated

  • Incidents are counted by the date they occurred, rather than the date they were reported, if different. 
  • When the location of the incident cannot be known, this is categorized as "Unknown Precinct". 
  • Sometimes one incident can contain multiple victims and multiple types of crimes. For example, if two people are robbed and are injured in the process, you would have two victims and two (simple assaults?) in addition to the robbery. These facts are important to the case (and to the victims) and we keep this data. For an overview of crime, however, it gives a false sense of the amount of incidents that happen in the city. Crime is counted as one incident and one victim, using the top crime - in this example, robbery. 
  • Excluded - Incidents that were reported but are later discovered to be unfounded. 
  • Excluded - Crimes that happen just outside the city limits that SPD responds to.