OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Is crime on the rise in Oklahoma?

The FBI recently released its annual crime report, which typically depicts crime trends in each state.

The full report:

The report includes detailed information on crimes that were reported in the previous year across the country, an overall analysis of crime, and a breakdown of data for major crime offenses.

However, for 2021 reporting, the agency changed its crime reporting system, and some experts said it could reflect an incomplete picture for addressing crime across the country; the agency now uses the National Incident-Based Reporting System, or NIBRS for crime data.

An analysis of the system from The Brennan Center suggests several changes to common understanding of reported crime trends.

Read more about the changes here.

One Oklahoma expert said on average, while crime rates in Oklahoma are higher per capita than averages in the rest of the U.S., there are several factors to consider.

“From [the year] 2000 forward, crime levels in Oklahoma are proportionately higher than those in the rest of the United States [so] the short answer is yes, crime is rising. The degree to which it is rising depends on which piece of data you’re looking at,” said David McLeod, Ph.D., current Associate Director of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work at the University of Oklahoma, and a former police detective.

“Statistically percentages of crime are higher in Oklahoma than they are around the country [and] the new system shows over 15,000 violent crimes in Oklahoma for 2021, whereas if we look at the data system from 2020, it’s like 8,700 violent crimes,” he added.

“So do I think that we have that big of a jump [in] one year? Probably not,” he added. “The degree to which it’s rising depends on which piece of data you’re looking at.”

McLeod said while crime numbers in Oklahoma may appear to be above national averages, they may not present a comprehensive picture of the current crime landscape in the state; rather, a “constellation” of factors could be contributors.

“We know that economy, poverty, all kinds of different things play a role in there. And I think it’s kind of it’s more like that perfect storm kind of situation,” he said, adding that all of those components that contribute to crime are felt with more intensity in Oklahoma.

“Until we address as a state a lot of these other factors, it will be really tough to bring our crime numbers into kind of a more moderate space that would be aligned with the rest of the country,” he continued.

“We know that people commit criminal behavior when they’ve become high on despair [and] low on hope, when their trauma is high, when they’ve faced extensive adversity in life,” he said.

“It’s not just about throwing people in jail because we’ve tried that,” added McLeod.

“We’re still in the top two or three in incarceration of men. So that’s not part of the answer. There’s got to be other things. I think expansion of mental health services, expansion of substance abuse treatment, and I actually told some folks earlier today, I really believe the investment in education, particularly K-12, education and youth and child development is the best bang for the buck payoff,” he continued.

“If we want to actually change, change these trends we want to create young people who are resilient and able to be in control of their lives and can push back against some of these other negative things that they’re trying to deal with here in Oklahoma.”