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Read correspondence between city, FBI over rape rates

All about the 'unfounded'' directive

This police guide, Directive 54 of about 140 such directives, provides the Philadelphia Police Department's official guidance to police on when to call a crime report ''unfounded.'' Read the directive (2 pages)

FBI questions city on 'unfounded' rape stats

In December 1983, the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program wrote to the Pennsylvania State Police questioning Philadelphia police's high rate of ''unfounding'' rape complaints - rejecting them as groundless.
The State Police was the oversight agency in Pennsylvania for the gathering of crime statistics.

The FBI noted that in the first half of 1983, Philadelphia police had rejected 52 percent of all rape complaints - a figure five times the national rate. The agency politely asked for an explanation - and warned that ''unfounding'' rates would be made public in the future. Read the FBI letter (2 pages)

City police respond to charges with their 'unfounded' criteria

In January 1984, the Phildelphia Police sex crime unit wrote back in defense of its ''unfounding'' rate. The letter was sent to the State Police, which forwarded it to the FBI. The letter listed numerous situations in which the sex crimes unit said women lied about rape. Read the letter (4 pages)

Nonetheless, while defending its ''unfounding'' rate as accurate, the department dramatically slashed the rate in 1984 - to just 16 percent of all complaints. It did so, in part, by beginning to shift cases to a non-criminal classification, ''investigation of person.''

These letters were not made public at the time. They were obtained in 1999 from the UCR program by The Inquirer, though a request filed under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

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