The Realities of Crime: Criminal Justice Expert Expounds on Statistics

Posted by on January 16, 2013

Criminal Justice Degree Program

Matt Stiehm

Minnesota School of Business–Lakeville and Shakopee recently welcomed new Criminal Justice Chair Matt Stiehm to their campuses. Matt holds an Educational Doctorate from Argosy University where the focus of his research was campus safety and security, as well as a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Central Missouri State University. Matt brings passion to the classroom, sharing real-life experiences with the students in the criminal justice degree program.

With recent tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Colorado Springs movie theater shooting and the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Matt discuses with his students the difference between the reality of crime and the perception of crime. 

“Every year the federal government collects millions of pieces of data to determine safety in a community,” Matt said. “They utilize Part I and Part II Crimes and attempt to ‘normalize’ and ‘standardize’ crime rates, making it out of a per 100,000 basis, so all communities can feel the same. The problem with these numbers is that crimes can happen anywhere, at any time, and anyone can be a victim.”

Students in Matt’s classes learn how to objectively look at crime statistics and determine the reality of what those statistics mean.

“There is also the unknown crime, which is commonly referred to by researchers as the ‘dark figure of crime,’” Matt said. 

To explain this concept, Matt asks students to imagine that they had their car keyed or something stolen from them while at work.

“Did you call the police? If not you are part of that ‘dark figure of crime,’” Matt shared. “These are small examples, but think of an unreported rape, burglary, or homicide. Which impacts your perception of safety more, the unreported rape or the ‘keying’ incident?”

Matt explains to his students that not all communities are the same and not all neighborhoods are the same. “Safety is perception and therefore, very difficult to measure,” he said. “Some of the variables that create nuances in crime are age, gender and race.” 

In order to determine safety, Matt encourages students to review the statistics and to determine if those crimes truly make them scared to be in that community. Matt promotes this critical thinking process to his students, further preparing them for a successful career within the criminal justice field.

In addition to his role at Minnesota School of Business, Matt currently volunteers with the Minnesota State Office of Justice Programs working on the yearly crime victim’s conference, Minnesota Hockey P and P Committee, and serves as an active member of the Law Enforcement Family Support Network, serving as the Vice President. He was appointed to the Clery Center for Security on Campus. He has presented to government boards on the topic of accreditation and law enforcement education/training. Matt has attended and received instructor certification; from Pressure Point and Control Tactics, Minneapolis Community College Use of Force Instructor, RAD-Systems, FLETC Use of Force Instructor Program,  and AELE Lethal and Less Lethal Training Program.

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