In sharing preliminary 2012 crime states, the Aurora Police Department faces an interesting dilemma -- how to process the July 20 massacre at the Aurora Century 16, which led to a dozen deaths and scores of injuries. APD data shows major crimes in the community went up slightly if the theater shooting numbers are incorporated, and down a bit if they're not. But murders still rose even without figures from the ill-fated Dark Knight premiere.
An APD releases stresses that the data being shared isn't final, and a disparity in numbers attributed to the theater shooting confirms it. A total of 57 people are listed as having been wounded in the assault -- a digit one shy of 58, the number used by most media organizations, including this one, for months after the tragedy. More recently, however, prosecutors in the case bumped up its calculation of those wounded to seventy, with additional charges against accused shooter James Holmes corresponding to the new sum.
That means the 797 aggravated assault victims listed for 2012 is probably low. But if that number is used anyhow, it registers a 5.9 percent increase over 2011, when 754 crimes in this category took place, but a 1.9 percent decrease if 57 theater shooting offenses are subtracted.
Unfortunately, considerably more murders took place in Aurora last year even if the Century 16 victims aren't included. Twelve people were killed in the community during 2011, while 29 died in 2012 -- the twelve during the theater shooting and seventeen others. Murders went up 141.7 percent when all the victims are counted, 41.6 percent when only those who were killed under other circumstances are part of the calculations.
Predictably, the APD doesn't pull out the murder numbers in its analysis of the figures. Instead, the department folds them into violent crime as a whole, noting that a 1.2 percent overall increase for 2012 would be transformed into a 3.5 percent decrease had the theater shooting -- referred to as "7/20" -- not occurred. Likewise, crime in general would have gone down 1.3 percent from 2011 to last year if no one had died or been hurt at the Century 16, rather than going up 1.9 percent.
Yet the murder numbers in Aurora remain alarming no matter how the math is done.
Look below to see a graph of the preliminary figures, followed by the APD's spin.
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Aurora Police Department release:
Preliminary 2012 Aurora Police Major Crime Statistics
Aurora, Colo. -- Aurora Police are releasing the preliminary major crime statistics for 2012. The July 20th, Century 16 theater tragedy had a significant impact on these numbers.
Aurora experienced a 1.9 percent increase in major index crime in 2012, the city's first crime increase after a decade of very significant reductions. The increase is a total of 216 major index crimes compared to 2011. Sixty Nine (69) of these crimes are attributable to the 7/20 Century 16 event alone -- 12 murders and 57 non-fatal aggravated assaults/gunshot victims. (The 7/20 victims are noted in parenthesis in the appropriate categories.)
To illustrate how much the horrific 7/20 event altered Aurora's crime numbers, two facts need to be considered: First, there was a 1.2 percent increase in violent crime in 2012. If 7/20 had not occurred, Aurora would have achieved a 3.5 percent decrease in violent crime in 2012. Second, the increase in overall crime in 2012 was 1.9 percent. Had 7/20 not occurred, the increase would have dropped to 1.3 percent.
The numbers in this chart are preliminary. A final vetting and validation of all 2012 crime data is done during the months of January and February. Aurora Police then report final numbers to the state in late February or early March. As in the past, it is not expected that these numbers will change significantly between now and final reporting.
Consistent with the FBI's national crime-tracking process, the data separates overall crime into seven categories that are referred to as the Major Index Crimes. These are: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault (the violent crime category) and burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft (the property crime category). The table that follows provides the rate of increase (or decrease) for each of these individual crimes and the two categories.
More from our Aurora Theater Shooting archive: "Aurora Century 16 reopening: See changes made to ten other massacre sites."