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FBI 2016 crime statistics aren't quite what they seem

FBI 2016 crime statistics aren't...

SPOKANE, Wash. - The FBI released new crime stats for 2016 Monday. Here's what the numbers seem to suggest, and the story they actually tell when you dig a little deeper.

According to the statistics, in Spokane County, violent crime was down 11%from 2015, which includes murder, rape and robbery. Property crime is up 23% over the previous year.

For the City of Spokane, violent crime is up 15% and property crime is up 3%, but, it doesn't necessarily mean more crimes are taking place.

The FBI tracks numbers from law enforcement nationwide to paint a complete picture of what each community is facing and before last year, the numbers weren't telling the whole story.

Last year, the FBI asked law enforcement agencies throughout the country to change the way they report crime by switching from the Uniform Crime Reporting System to the National Incident-Based Reporting System.

“The difference in those two reporting systems is under uniform crime reporting you could have multiple crimes going on the same incident but only one of those would be reported,” said John O'Brien, Public Information Officer for the Spokane Police Department.

Here's what that means. If officers showed up at the scene of a murder and finds their suspect also robbed their victim and was carrying drugs, the only crime they would report to the FBI was the most severe - in this case, the murder.

Under the new system, all of those crimes would be reported.

“The new system will be more accurate. You're documenting everything that happened in that incident whereas in the past it was just one thing,” said O'Brien.

It allows departments to spot trends and focus enforcement, but right now its making things look not so good for our community.

When the change from one system to the other happens, it can initially appear that the area has a higher level of crime. That's because comparing numbers under the two different systems is like comparing apples and oranges.

“Once this year is complete, October of 2017, we will be able to compare numbers, month to month on the same reporting system,” explained O'Brien.

On a national average, the crime stats from the FBI show an overall decrease in violent crime and an increase in property crimes.