Deputy Police Chief Rejects FBI Crime Statistics

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Playing defense! WHNT NEWS 19 is not talking about your favorite sports team. We are talking about the Huntsville Police Department. The department’s top brass takes issue with our recent report concerning FBI crime statistics for Huntsville. The department’s Deputy Police Chief wanted to get in front of our camera to reject the numbers.

WHNT NEWS 19 sat down with Deputy Chief Sherry Jackson. The exchange cordial. The mood during the interview was tense. The department’s second-in-command was disappointed in WHNT NEWS 19’s report from Wednesday’s 10:00 pm newscast. She believes our report saying crime in Huntsville jumped 11%, citing FBI data, alarmed community and pushed out misinformation.

The headline that started it all, ‘FBI Report: Violent Crime in Huntsville Sees Double-digit Spike’.

“No one wants to wake up in the morning and see a headline saying crime has shot up in Huntsville. When that is absolutely not true,” said Jackson.

WHNT NEWS 19 cited information from the FBI. The FBI’s data indicated crime jumped 11% in Huntsville from 2011 to 2012.

“I was disappointed the story ran without an explanation or giving us an opportunity to respond,” added Jackson.

WHNT NEWS 19 tried getting Huntsville police to respond. We emailed the department’s spokesman Tuesday. Several emails were exchanged before the story aired.

WHNT NEWS 19 asked the department to comment, but the department said they would need time to look over the FBI’s data. We talked to the city council president instead.

“I expect in the next 48 hours, or maybe a week, after the chief has time to review the report with his staff, I expect them to brief the council on what`s going on,” said City Council President Mark Russell.

Jackson says their statistics are an open book.

“We hope to tell the council exactly what our numbers are. We are transparent about those numbers. We can explain them,” added Jackson.

She told WHNT NEWS 19 she is happy to talk about the numbers and share them.

“We have nothing to hide. This is a transparent police department. I will tell you what I know when I know it. I don`t have any problem doing that, but it was very unfortunate the way it came out,” added Jackson.

Jackson told WHNT NEWS 19 the department reported 178 more violent crimes in 2012 than in 2011. She said, “As far as violent crimes, we had 178 more reported violent crimes during 2012 than we did in 2011. Now, that’s 11 percent, but that is only 178 crimes.”

It appears the department is more concerned with us reporting the percentage rather than the number. The Huntsville Police Department supplied the FBI with the data used in this report. Jackson told WHNT NEWS 19 her department provides information differently from other departments.

Jackson says it is important to mention there is a disclaimer on the FBI’s website to go along with the agency’s statistics. The disclaimer suggests not comparing crime stats in one city to crime stats in another city. Our reports did not compare Huntsville with another city.

The deputy chief did say the Huntsville Police Department is comparable to police departments in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville, TN.