Chicago crime

Chicago Police Department says a temporary technical glitch is affecting some online crime searches. (Getty Images / March 29, 2011)

If you browsed one of the city's crime lists online Friday morning, you would think Chicago was in the middle of a record breaking year with only 11 homicides in 2014.

Chicago Police said Friday they are experiencing a "temporary technology glitch" that causes some cases to not appear when users search one of the department's most popular datasets.

Of this year's 74 Chicago homicides, eight, or about 10 percent, did not show up in a RedEye search this week of the department dataset for crime dating back to 2001. The cases appear on data.cityofchicago.org when searching datasets that cover a smaller time period.

This week, RedEye identified eight homicide cases that were not listed in the 13-year crime portal, which has more than 73,000 views and is the most accessed public safety dataset this year.

All eight cases were determined to be homicides by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, which performed autopsies on the victims. The police department agreed that they classify the eight cases as homicides.

Police spokesman Adam Collins said the department's online vendor will conduct a "complete re-sync of all data," which should be completed today. Collins pointed to a disclaimer on the portal warning users of the possibility of data errors.

"As with complex data-sharing environment, no matter how advanced, temporary glitches can occur which may impact a data transfer and, on occasion, cause data updates to fail. Generally the failure rate is less than 1 percent," Collins said in an e-mail to RedEye.

The issue of police transparency was raised this week in a Chicago Magazine article that called into question the department's method of counting and reporting homicides.

Police Supt. Garry McCarthy disputed the veracity of the piece by Chicago Magazine, which is owned by Tribune Co., which also owns RedEye.

Collins said the police department is a "national leader on data transparency and voluntarily publishes more data and criminal case information than most or all large police departments."

RedEye also inquired about a ninth case that the Medical Examiner's Office determined to be a homicide. The case appears on the data portal as an aggravated battery.

Officials said Michael Tingling, 59, died last month after he was punched in the chest in Rogers Park, the Tribune reported. An autopsy found that Tingling died of stress due to an altercation and heart disease.

Joseph Firek, 59, was charged with first-degree murder and a hate crime in the case, the Tribune reported. Tingling is black and Firek is white.

"The offender was charged with a murder -- however, the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) states a heart attack can not be caused by another person. Therefore, UCR mandates that the incident be classified as an Aggravated Battery / Hands, Fists," Collins said in an e-mail to RedEye.

Chicago police use Uniform Crime Reporting codes to classify criminal incidents. The codes are listed on the data portal with each individual case.

RedEye counts 74 homicides as of Friday morning, down 12 percent versus the same period in 2013. RedEye bases its count on Medical Examiner findings, which include homicides deemed to be in self-defense.

Reporting crime on the data portal has been pushed by Mayor Emanuel since he took office. In September 2011, his office announced the release of more than 4.6 million crime incident reports spanning 10 years on the portal.

"Having the information available online will help provide greater accountability and transparency in the Chicago Police Department while providing another tool for a historical evaluation of performance and trends by crime type and geographic location," the mayor's office said in a press release at the time.