Q&A – Are Crimes In South Florida Schools Underreported?

Today’s entry: Brian, I read that the Runcie indictment involved the underreporting of crimes in schools. This was something frequently discussed after the attack in Parkland but never seemed to be resolved. I’ve started to wonder if A) this isn’t isolated to Broward schools and B) if it happens in other instances outside of schools. It seems to me there’s a general interest in lower crime rates by most public officials. 

Bottom Line: You raise a good and interesting point. First though, what we know regarding the indictment of Broward School Superintendent Robert Runcie is not much. We know it’s a perjury charge in a near two-year grand jury investigation and we know the allegation is regarding one of the four areas being investigated by the grand jury. We don’t know much beyond that.

The three-page indictment filed with the Florida Supreme Court is publicly available but is mostly redacted. One of the four areas of investigation is whether school officials underreported crimes committed at schools and if they are continuing to do so in violation of state law. It’s widely believed that this is the most likely to apply to Runcie based on previous findings of Broward’s reporting revealed by the Sun-Sentinel and the Stoneman Douglas Commission. They found this to be an issue in Broward, and the lax policy was at the root of the handling/transferring of Stoneman Douglas attacker Nikolas Cruz. Underreporting of crime does likely apply beyond Broward’s schools. 

As part of the Sun Sentinel’s 2018 investigation, they found a fifth of schools in Florida failed to report related data to the state. The implication is that 20% of schools never had a crime committed on campus. Given that there are 26 categories with mandatory reporting ranging from sexual assault to bullying to possession of alcohol or tobacco, it seems implausible that over 600 schools in Florida never have even one of those during a year. The problem with knowing how pervasive the underreporting is, even within the schools that do report to the state, is that we don’t know what we don’t know. That’s why it’s part of the grand jury investigation to attempt to figure it out.

Most of South Florida, for example, stands to benefit economically from the perception of lower crime through tourism. Once the grand jury’s investigation is finished, we should have a good idea of underreporting of crimes in schools. Perhaps that will be a time we can address the concern of underreported crime generally in South Florida. 

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods. 


Parler & Twitter:@brianmuddradio 

Photo by: Getty Images

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