I'm always stressing the disconnect between UCR
(Uniform Crime Reporting) and prosecution,
because you'll be working with police officers, and
supervisors, who just never seem to get it.  Once
you clearly understand the separation, you'll be
frustrated with the seeming inability of others to
understand that separation.  Some police officers
will even argue with prosecutors over criminal
charges because of a UCR classification.  When the
officer is met with a blank look from the prosecutor,
the officer will go away angry complaining about the
prosecutor's incompetence or lack of interest.  The
prosecutor couldn't care less about UCR crime
classifications, because UCR has nothing to do with

Here's a scenario which should make the separation
crystal clear.  As a police officer you'll be executing a
lot of arrest warrants.  Once you serve an arrest
warrant, it will be your responsibility to write a police
report to document the service of the warrant.  If
the original offense occurred in your jurisdiction,
you'll document the service in a follow-up report to
the original report.   In this scenario, you receive an
arrest warrant for an armed robbery; whereupon,
you locate and arrest the suspect named in the
warrant.  However, when you try to locate the
original robbery report, you discover that no police
report of the robbery was ever made.  
Unfortunately, most police officers will simply take
the path of least resistence by writing a
miscellaneous report of service and leave it at that.
Since you're not one of most, you decide to locate
the victim of the robbery to determine why the
crime was never reported.  You're pleased to learn
that the unreported crime was not due to a police
officer downgrading a crime.  In fact, the victim
never even contacted or involved police in any way.  
The victim in this scenario knew the suspect's
name, age, and residence.  Immediately following
the offense, the victim responded directly to the
appropriate court official where he wrote a
statement of probable cause and submitted it to
the court commissioner, magistrate, etc. for
review.  The court official reviewed the probable
cause, determined the appropriate criminal
charge(s), and issued an arrest warrant for the
suspect/defendant.  The arrest warrant
subsequently came into your possession for

As far as the robbery incident in this scenario is
concerned, the prosecution phase is a done deal.  
The prosecutor will plea bargain or prosecute this
case solely on the contents of the victim's probable
cause statement.  So... why should you go to the
trouble of investigating and reporting a crime that's
already been solved and in the criminal justice
pipeline awaiting adjudication?  The answers are
really pretty simple.  First, it's your job to
investigate and document crimes committed in your
area of responsibility.  Second, while the crime is in
the pipeline, it never traveled through your portion
of the pipeline where the crime is counted by UCR.  
Third, and most importantly, your investigation will
give police knowledge of the crime, and your
investigation could produce even more evidence in
support of the victim's allegations.  Beyond that,
the suspect in the robbery could well be responsible
for other previously reported robberies, and your
investigation could solve those crimes resulting in
additional charges against the suspect.

You might be asking, "How could the victim skip
reporting the robbery and go directly to the
court?"  Again, police and courts are separate
entities.  If you ever attend a court proceeding held
in a courtroom which is housed within, or adjacent
to, a police facility, the judge will probably open the
session with a statement explaining that the court
is in no way part of the police department.  When it
comes to reporting crime, there's no law requiring
you to first report the crime to police.  When it
comes to prosecution, the statement of probable
cause is, and will always continue to be, the key
document for any prosecution.  A probable cause
statement can be prepared and submitted by either
a police officer or the victim of the crime in

While the process for reporting crime in every state
encourages the public to first call police, that step
can be bypassed.  Some states just make it easier
than others.  In Maryland for example, the District
Court of Maryland makes court commissioners
available on a 24/7 basis usually located within
police facilities where they're available to police
officers and the public alike.

Just remember that your responsibility to UCR is
part of a process... but a separate part of the
"Once you clearly understand the separation,
you'll be frustrated with the seeming inability
of others to understand that separation.  Some
police officers will even argue with prosecutors
over criminal charges because of a UCR
classification." ~ Barry M. Baker
UCR and
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker