After being down for about a year, a state police website once again provides all sorts of local crime data.
The newly developed PA Uniform Crime Reporting System public portal went live at the end of 2020. Here’s the link: www.ucr.pa.gov/PAUCRSPUBLIC.
And state police plan to start reporting next year how local police use force, according to Maj. Sean Jennings, a police spokesperson.
This is important because the public needs to know about local crimes – to feel safe and to hold their local police accountable. With the decline of local news reporting, it is more important that the government provides detailed, up-to-date information about local crime directly to the public.
On the new website, you can search and sort the crime and arrest data by county, department, offense and month. You can see clearance rates and the race [black or white] and ethnicity [Hispanic or Latino, or not Hispanic or Latino] of those arrested. You can compare the information side by side with other counties or departments. Then you can export it to a spread sheet to play with and analyze further.
In any case, I think many people are way too scared of crime – in their fear, some people even carry guns! So scrutiny of crime and police activity is as important as ever, and of great public interest. That means this new and hopefully improving website will be of great use.
Reporting police use-of-force – shootings [very little ever in Berks], Tasings, baton-bashings — will be major progress in police accountability. In my 25 years of observing news and talking to people in Berks, I’ve never sensed that local police – with a few exceptions – are anything but decent and professional.
“Although use-of-force data is not currently available through the PAUCRS, Pennsylvania will be joining the federal initiative currently underway to collect this data through its state UCR program and make it available to the public,” according to Jennings’ e-mail.
State police expect to begin collecting this data and making it available to the public in 2022, “once the necessary modifications have been made to the PAUCRS to facilitate collection of the data from law enforcement agencies throughout the state.”
I first noticed the site was down in February 2020, when I thought I’d research arrests for marijuana possession. The new site doesn’t seem to report marijuana violations, as the old one did, but some data is still “migrating,” according to Jennings. In an e-mail, he said more data would be available as the site develops.
According to the state police, the PA Uniform Crime Reporting system is used by more than 1,600 law enforcement agencies throughout the state to report monthly crime statistics in accordance with state and federal mandates.
“It is also used by the public, private-sector organizations, government officials, and law enforcement agencies to access and analyze information concerning crime in communities throughout Pennsylvania.”
The old system had technical problems.
In response to my asking about the lapse, State Sen. Judy Schwank told me in an email she thinks crime reports are very important, and connected me with Jennings.