Tracking Animal Crimes Data in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program – A Huge Step ForwardPosted by Scott Heiser, Senior Attorney and Director, Criminal Justice Program on June 26, 2014
Since 1929, the FBI has been the central repository for the collection and dissemination of federal, state, and local crime statistics. Law enforcement and lawmakers alike regularly cite these statistics when making key policy decisions—be it a decision by a local sheriff to add patrols to reduce the rate of residential burglaries or a state legislature’s enactment of a new statute defining a new crime or enhancing the penalties for an existing one.
For those of us who champion animal protection issues, we have been frustrated by the fact that the FBI’s UCR program has not included data related to crimes against animals. However, that glaring deficiency is about to change. The key internal committee within the FBI that proposes changes to the UCR program rules recently (and unanimously) passed two resolutions that amend the UCR program to expand its scope to finally include crimes against animals. This is not yet a “done deal” as the Director of the FBI must formally approve these changes, but once that process is complete, we will finally begin collecting this invaluable data.
This great outcome is the product the hard work of many, including the Animal Welfare Institute, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. However, this could not have happened without the Herculean efforts of John Thompson, Deputy Executive Director of the National Sheriffs’ Association (or as we like to say, the “other NSA”).
This is great news and we have every confidence that, when armed with the hard facts of the extent and frequency of crimes against animals, this data will play a vital role in improving federal, state, and local laws for the betterment of animals—thank you, Mr. Thompson!