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Matthew Yglesias

What’s Dangerous Is America’s Lack of Crime Data

More timely national information about crime and policing would make it easier to devise strategies to reduce violence.

Exactly how common is this scene?

Exactly how common is this scene?

Photographer: Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service

Crime is on the political agenda in a big way this year, with Republicans zeroing in on it as their favorite topic now that gasoline prices are moderating.

Which naturally raises the question: Is crime rising? To which the shocking answer is — nobody knows. Not because anything unusual is happening, but simply because the usual state of America’s information on crime and policing is incredibly poor.