Federal Crime Data

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This second edition of the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s Federal Crime Data updates data from last year’s report and adds several new tables. Included again are the federal agencies that have submitted traditional UCR data for some time. (Before last year, they were included in other tables in Crime in the United States.) Added this year are employee data and expanded offenses with arrest data from the FBI, as well as arrest data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). These additions signal a widening of participation that the FBI intends to continue to build on.

The traditional model of UCR

The concept of offenses known was adopted in 1929 by the International Chiefs of Police as the data that would be collected in the UCR Program. The aim was to get a true sense of crime in the nation. The UCR Program was designed to be an innate step for state and local agencies to report the crimes that were most common and most likely to come to the attention of law enforcement. However, because of the types ofcrimes federal agencies investigate, the way they investigate and build cases is often fundamentally different than that of state and local agencies. As a result, it has been difficult to fit the square peg of federal crime data into the round hole of UCR.

A few agencies, for examplethe National Institutes of Health (NIH) and several agencies within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), investigate and police in ways similar to local or state authorities. These federal agencies have long reported data to the UCR Program. However, other agencies, the FBI included, found it more difficult to fit into the UCR model. This report is designed as a step in an initiative to find ways to provide similar transparency and access to federal crime data that the UCR Program has brought to state, local, and tribal crime data for nearly 90 years.

A fluid process

The UCR Program is committed to finding ways to present federal data that will add an important piece of the puzzle to the nation’s crime picture. This compilation presents traditional UCR data from the DOI and the NIH, as well as data for selected offenses that have been extracted from FBI and ATF records. The strategy is to continue to build on these efforts and persistently add more federal data from the FBI and from other agencies each year. This process will be very fluid, and the data may change, grow, and shift from year to year. This means trending and comparability of data will be elusive for a while. That said, the desire for transparency and information-sharing negateswaiting for total uniformity to provide data. The UCR Program plans to grow and improve federal crime reporting directly in the public eye. The Program believes the time to begin expanding the presentation of federal data is now, even if that beginning will be seen as limited in retrospect.

Federal Agencies Presenting Traditional UCR Data

The federal agencies (e.g., the DOI and the NIH) that have previously provided traditional UCR offense data and employee counts to the Program were included in Table 11 and Table 81 of Crime in the United States until last year when all federal data were included in this report. The data declaration pages, which will help the user better understand the data, and the methodology used for these two tables are located in the Data Declarations and Methodology section at the end of this presentation.

  • Federal Table 1 - “Offenses Known to Law Enforcement, by Federal Agency, 2015”
  • Federal Table 2 - “Full-time Law Enforcement Employees, by Federal Agency, 2015”

Additional Federal Data

Comparability of federal data to state and local data

All crime data create some concerns regarding comparability. In UCR Statistics: Their Proper Use, the UCR Program cautions that “there are many factors that cause the nature and type of crime to vary from place to place.” It is important for users of UCR data, including federal data, to avoid drawing such simplistic conclusions as one area is safer than another or that one agency is more or less efficient than another based solely on crime counts.

The best approach to viewing the federal data offered in this compilation is to use it to gain an overall impression of the intensity of certain types of offenses within a specific area by overlaying the federal arrests in conjunction with the state and local information. As data collection enhancements occur, more details will become available from federal agencies, and these impressions will become more sharply focused.

Federal crime data are often different from local and state data, not only in theircollection,but also in their generation. The UCR Program has built its traditional data collection on three triggering events that are common to state and local agencies. Offense information begins with either, first, a complaint of a victim/citizen or, second, the observation of a crime in progress by a law enforcement officer.A thirdtrigger for data is when an arrest is made and information related to that occurrence is reported.

For federal agencies, the initiation of investigation may be prompted in different ways. For example, the crimes of human trafficking and hate crime and their associated data are brought to the attention of the FBI in much the same fashion:

  • Reports from victims
  • Liaison with other law enforcement agencies
  • Information about human trafficking victims brought to the FBI by nongovernmental organizations 
  • Reports from the media 

The decision to handle a crime as a federal investigation or as a local investigation is determined on a case-by-case basis. Some of the factors that enter into the decision for federal agencies to pursue an investigation are the available evidence, the availability of resources at the local level, and, in the case of hate crime, statutory provisions that determine whether the U.S. Attorney will accept the case as a federal one. In addition, some states do not have a hate crime statute under which to pursue a case.

Why federal numbers are smaller than those of other UCR agencies

As mentioned previously, federal investigations, by nature, often begin under different circumstances and proceed and conclude on different timeframes than investigations conducted by local and state agencies. Just as federal agencies often do not have offenses known to report, they also do not have a number of offenses to report until a case has been built and an arrest or indictment has occurred. Perhaps most impactful on the federal numbers is the fact that federal agencies often play a collaborative role with local and state agencies in crime investigations. Because the UCR Program has the “most local reporting” rule, which specifies that the agency involved that is the most local jurisdiction should report the incident to the UCR Program, investigations and arrests that federal authorities have worked on often are reported by a city, county, state, or tribal agency.

Why were these offenses chosen by the FBI?

The original three offenses presented last year were chosen because the FBI has primary jurisdiction for Hate Crime and Criminal Computer Intrusion for federal agencies. While the FBI shares the responsibility of investigating Human Trafficking with other federal agencies, the collection of statistics for this offense began in the UCR Program in 2013, and it seemed logical to add a federal layer to that collection. This year, the UCR Program has added four more offenses to this report: Bank Robbery, Child Exploitation, Health Care Fraud, and Securities Fraud. These offenses are logical choices asadditions,since the Program has long collected data on robbery, fraud, and many of the offenses that would be committed when perpetrating a child exploitation. Each of the offenses presented here has overlapping jurisdiction among the local, state, and federal agencies, and adding this federal component to traditional UCR data can help complete the picture of these particular offense categories.

Federal Arrest Data

The data declaration pages, which will help the user better understand the data presented in this report, and the methodology for all tables are located in the Data Declarations and Methodology section at the end of this report.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

This section provides limited additional federal data in the form of the number of arrests by FBI field offices for seven specific crimes: Human Trafficking, Hate Crime, Criminal Computer Intrusion, Bank Robbery, Child Exploitation, Health Care Fraud, and Securities Fraud. These offenses are defined as follows:

Human Trafficking (Commercial Sex Acts and Involuntary Servitude) is inducing a person by force,fraud, or coercion to participate in commercial sex acts or an arrest for obtaining a person(s) through recruitment, harboring, transportation, or provision, and subjecting such persons by force, fraud, or coercion into involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.

    • Federal Table 3 - “FBI Human Trafficking Arrests, by FBI Field Office, 2015”

Hate Crime is a criminal offense motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or gender or gender identity.

    • Federal Table 4 - “FBI Hate Crime Arrests, by FBI Field Office, 2015”

Criminal Computer Intrusion is wrongfully gaining access to another person’s or institution’s computer software, hardware, or networks without authorized permissions or security clearances.(Local,state, and tribal agencies will report these offenses to the UCR Program, beginning in 2016, as Hacking/Computer Invasion.)

    • Federal Table 5 - “FBI Criminal Computer Intrusion Arrests, by FBI Field Office, 2015”

Bank Robbery is, within the banking environment, the taking or attempting to take anything of value under confrontational circumstances from the control, custody, or care or another person by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear of immediate harm.

    • Federal Table 6 - “FBI Bank Robbery Arrests, by FBI Field Office, 2015”

Child Exploitation is the act of taking advantage of a minor for one’s own benefit (e.g., profit, power, status, sexual gratification, or some other purpose). The scope of exploitation for the purposes of this report are those statutes that cover the UCR offenses of Pornography, Kidnapping, Prostitution, Rape, Sodomy, or Sexual Assault with an Object. To further understand the offense of child exploitation in this report, refer to the data declaration of Federal Table 7 at the end of this report. 

    • Federal Table 7 - “FBI Child Exploitation Arrests, by FBI Field Office, 2015”

Health Care Fraud is, with regard to health care, the intentional perversion of the truth for the purpose of inducing another person or other entity in reliance upon it to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right.

    • Federal Table 8 - “FBI Health Care Fraud Arrests, by FBI Field Office, 2015”

Securities Fraud is, with regard to securities and commodities, the intentional perversion of the truth for the purpose of inducing another person or other entity in reliance upon it to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right.

    • Federal Table 9 - “FBI Securities Fraud Arrests, by FBI Field Office, 2015”

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

This section provides additional federal data in the form of the number of arrests by the ATF within the judicial districts for Arson and Explosives offenses. These offenses are defined as follows:

Explosive-related offenses involve breaking laws and regulations regarding importing, manufacturing, dealing in, purchasing, using and storing or possessing explosive materials.

    • Federal Table 10 - “ATF Explosives-related Arrests, by Judicial District, 2015”

Arson-related offenses involve unlawful and intentional damage or attempts to damage any real or personal property by fire or incendiary device.

    • Federal Table 11 - “ATF Arson-related Arrests, by Judicial District, 2015”

Federal Law Enforcement Employment Data

  • Federal Table 12 - “Federal Bureau of Investigation, Total Employees, by Gender, 2015”