FBI to probe chief’s crime reporting method
By LINDELL JOHN KAY AND AMELIA HARPER
Friday, August 11, 2017
In the wake of a recent Telegram investigation into the use of crime statistics by Rocky Mount Police Chief James Moore, the City Council is asking the FBI to review the coding system and has vowed to make necessary changes.
Moore, who became chief in 2012, said last week in an hour-long recorded interview about crime statistics that if a shot is fired into a bedroom and people are in the living room, that would not be reported as shooting into an occupied dwelling — an aggravated assault — but instead would be reported as property damage, which isn’t an offense voluntarily reported to state and federal agencies for crime statistics purposes.
Mayor David Combs said the City Council invited the FBI to review the system in 2013 and will do so again to maintain the public’s trust.
City cases involving shooting into an occupied dwelling are reported to state and federal agencies differently than they are prosecuted, Combs said Thursday in a statement prepared in answer to questions from the Telegram.
“In reference to shooting into an occupied dwelling, the Rocky Mount Police Department does not follow the N.C. State General Statute when submitting information to the SBI for reporting purposes,” Combs said. “Cases, however, are prosecuted according to the statutes.”
The Telegram has contacted District Attorney Robert Evans to ask him about the legal, procedural and ethical issues involved in Moore's statement and in his apparent misrepresentation of crime statistics. While Evans hasn't responded, prosecutors elsewhere in the state told the Telegram that Moore's theory doesn't hold water.
Combs said the police department utilizes the SBI's Incident Based Reporting Data Collection guidelines in reporting crimes. However, shooting into an occupied dwelling seems to clearly fall under the aggravated assault category in those standards, according to several law enforcement officials, some who work for Moore and some employed at other local agencies.
The SBI's Incident Based Reporting Data Collection guidelines define aggravated assault as “The unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe bodily injury usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm. Attempts are included since it is not necessary that an injury result when a gun, knife, or other weapon is used which could and probably would result in serious personal injury if the crime were successfully completed.”
The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting handbook, from which state standards are drawn, more specifically classifies such crimes as Aggravated Assault — Firearm to include “all assaults in which a firearm of any type is used or is threatened to be used.”
Moore's room test isn't mentioned in either document.