On the 15th of every month, the sole crime analyst at the Beverly Hills Police Department, (BHPD) Karina Amaral, is responsible for putting together and publishing a monthly crime statistics report for the public. Prior to 2016, the BHPD only publicly released one crime report at the end of each year. Since January 2016, however, there have been monthly reports released, and in 2018, the department began releasing one-page end of year reports, designed to be easily understood for the public. The Courier sat down with Amaral and the police department’s Lieutenant Max Subin to understand how the numbers are tabulated, what specific criteria are used to justify the accounting and how and why the designation of certain crimes are reclassified in the reports.
Under the management of Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli, in an effort to be more transparent and provide the public with easily digestible crime statistics, the BHPD included for the first time a summary in their end of year report. The most recent year’s report began, “In 2019, overall crime decreased by over 14%; meanwhile, the department made over 2,000 arrests which
resulted in a 7% increase in arrests made. Most significantly, there is a -49% decrease in our residential burglaries.” The six-page 2019 report, which can be found on the City’s website, also contains a glossary defining each crime category and sub-category used.
Crimes are divided into two categories: violent crimes are called part one crimes and non-violent offenses are part two crimes. Part one crimes, which are reported to the FBI, include all violent crimes such as criminal homicide, rape, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, larceny-theft, larceny, robbery and commercial robbery where force is used. Part two crimes include fraud, embezzlement, DUI’s, disorderly conduct, narcotic violations, sexual offences and more. However, only part one crimes are outlined in the report. “If everything that we did in a whole month was to be in this report, it would probably be 15 to 20 pages of just numbers,” Lt. Subin told the Courier. “The best report is smaller and very thorough, but it’s also easy to read. Digestible. We’ve got to make it look good.”
The 2019 annual crime statistics report also includes field, arrest, collision and enforcement statistics as well as the number and status of cases assigned within the detective bureau and the crime impact team.
Some of the numbers reflected in the annual 2019 report do not correspond with the numbers reflected in the FBI’s reports. The reason for that is the City’s practice of reclassification whereby a crime that was initially reported as belonging to one category is later deemed to belong to another. Any crimes that have been reclassified are properly reflected in subsequent reports. According to Lt. Subin and Amaral, this is why some figures on the monthly reports don’t match up to the end-of-year reports. “Reclassification of cases happens very often,” Amaral told the Courier. “Things can change two months later.”
Amaral said that the figures that are initially published in the crime reports are preliminary statistics and are subject to change. “But at the end of the year,” she said, “I go ahead and run them again to determine how many crimes have been reclassified.”
The type of crime that is most frequently reclassified is robbery. In an attempt to improve the reporting of crime statistics for this type of crime, a subcategory to differentiate between street, commercial and residential robberies as well as larceny is used.
As the City’s lone employee responsible for tabulating crime statistics for their publication within the monthly and annual crime stats reports, as well as the annual summary, Amaral receives the stats from bureaus within the BHPD, and reports directly to Lt. Subin. “I make sure the public is aware of everything the chief really wants out there and seen on the website,” Subin told the Courier.
Monthly crime statistics reports are available to the public on the City’s website. The annual crime statistics report and its accompanying summary designed for the layperson are published on pages five and six of the report.