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St. Louis officials consider combining city and county crime data

Major league baseball has been divided into two separate leagues for over 100 years. Historically, the American League and the National League met only in the World Series and the All-Star Game.

Today, there is more inter-league play than before. But the two leagues still keep separate sets of statistics and give their own end-of-season awards.

This suggests that combining statistics is not as easy as it might seem when it reflects larger structural issues between organizations. In this post, we'll look at structural issues regarding crime statistics in the city and county of St. Louis.

The St. Louis city police chief and his county counterpart have proposed combining the city's and county's statistics.

But at least one other criminal justice official in the St. Louis area sees things differently. Bob McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, is opposed to the proposed change. 

For one thing, McCulloch says, the proposed new way of compiling crime statistics might overlook unincorporated areas and municipalities that aren't patrolled by country officers.

There is also, however, the question of political appearances. By keeping separate statistics, crime rates in the city of St. Louis may seem overly high. And this can tie into concerns among suburbanites about violent offenses in the city center.

In short, something as simple as merging separate statistics can have sensitive political implications. 

The issue, in any case, is far from resolved. It is possible that the FBI, which will receive the results of the crime statistics, will clarify how municipalities should be counted.

And even if the proposal to combine statistics for FBI reporting is approved, separate statistics for city and country would still be available.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis County prosecutor questions crime statistics plan," Christine Byers, September 24, 2013

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