UT selected to join research network on misdemeanor crimes

UT selected to join research network on misdemeanor crimes
(Source: WTOL)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The University of Toledo has been selected to join a new national research network that will study trends in low-level crimes in order to enhance public safety, increase public trust in police and save tax dollars.

The Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice is run by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which began focusing on misdemeanors in New York City years ago, and is now expanding its research to six other cities, including Toledo.

UT received a three-year $169,000 grant to analyze local data and work with other research institutions throughout the country.

Other cities involved in the research network include Los Angeles, Seattle, St. Louis, Durham, N.C., and Prince Georges County in Maryland.

"The University of Toledo is proud to be a part of this pioneering national project to inform policy discussions and reform because misdemeanors are the bulk of what police officers deal with every day, but there is not much research on it," said Dr. David Lilley, assistant professor of criminal justice and the research director of the misdemeanor justice project at UT, in a press release. "The vast majority of arrests are low-level offenses that carry a maximum sentence of up to one year in jail, such as drug possession, petty theft, simple assault and driving on a suspended license."

Misdemeanors accounted for around 90 percent of total arrests by Toledo officers in 2015, according to the press release. That year, there were 22,463 misdemeanor arrests and 2,296 felony arrests.

"Misdemeanors are the lion's share of the charges that we usually bring against suspects," Toledo Police Chief George Kral said in a press release. "I'm hoping this study gives us more ideas on what works and what doesn't work. That valuable intelligence will help me change policy, if necessary, to make the whole process more efficient, keep the community safe, and give defendants the help they need. If we could nip it in the bud at the misdemeanor level, we could stop someone from escalating to felonies in the future."

The city of Toledo was chosen out of 39 others that applied. The school says that is in part to the ongoing work between university researchers and local law enforcement.

The research will take a look at the number of people fined, jailed or punished for lower-level crimes, as well as the type of crime, and find out where the trends are.

As a result, there is hope that the research network could help to improve the local justice system policies and reduce the jail population.

Follow WTOL:  

Download our app here

Copyright 2017 WTOL. All rights reserved.