Sample English Paper on Reliability and Rate of Crime

Reliability vs. Precision

In criminology, reliability involves obtaining the same outcomes after measuring something several times. Thus, measuring reliability equals to testing consistency and stability. However, measuring reliability in criminal justice has been marred by problems that allow lawbreakers to go scot-free after committing a crime. Criminal courts cannot base all cases on reliability with considering accuracy and preciseness of the crime. For instance, if a motorists contest a charge for over-speeding based on reliability, he/she is likely to win the case due to lack of precision and accuracy, but an arrest through suspicion can be based on reliability. No matter how experienced a police officer is in detecting over-speeding, the court cannot deliver a verdict based on reliability measurement. Reliability is vital but does not guarantee accuracy than precision does.

In the case of Terry v. Ohio (392 U.S. 1), the police officer’s experience and precision enabled the court to deliver verdict against the petitioner. The court relied on the police officer’s information due to his experience of more than 30 years as a detective. Understanding certain crimes requires someone who is reliable and capable of offering valid reason. The element of suspicion surpassed the aspect of unreasonable search, as indicated in the Fourth Amendment. On the other hand, the judge rejected information on over-speeding based on guesswork, despite the person’s experience in giving accurate results. According to Maxfield and Babbie (2015), reliability becomes a problem when a single person is relied on to give the results, thus, leading to subjectivity. In the case of over-speeding, the police officer can bring the accused to court if he relied on a laser speed detector, which is quite accurate compared to the speedometer.


Crime Rates in the United States

For nearly two decades now, the overall crime rates in the US have been on the decline. New technology and increased intelligence among the law enforcement agencies have helped in reducing the crime rates in the US’s major cities, as well as in the countryside. The level of confinement has also contributed vastly in reducing overall crime. According to Uniform Crime Reports (2011), the violent crime rate in the US in 2002 was 494.4 while the property crime rate stood at 3,630.6. Violent crime involves use of force to threaten victims during crime while property crime involves taking of property without frightening the victim. In 2007, violent crime rate was 471.8 while property crime rate dropped to 3,276.4. In 2011, violent crimes rates and property crimes rates stood at 386.3 and 2,908.7 respectively. The above figures were calculated as per 100,000 residents.

My city, Asheville in North Carolina has also recorded a decline in violent crime rate since 2002, but demonstrated a different picture in the property crime rate. Generally, the city is quite unsafe as compared to other cities in North Carolina. In 2002, violent crime rate in Asheville was 366.2 while property crime rate was 508.6 (Crime rate in Asheville, n.d). In 2007, the crime rates were 361.5 for violent crime and 522.7 for property crime. This indicated a rise in property crime rate, which was attributed to vacations in summer months that consequently lead to residential burglaries. Economic downturns also affected the rates, leading to increased property crimes. In 2011, violent crime rate and property crime rate were 267.1 and 380.4, respectively. A word of precaution to Asheville visitors is that they should avoid isolated areas, particularly at night, and not to leave their valuable items in their car, where thieves can view them.

Response to student

While I agree that reliability concerns stable results in repeated techniques, and that precision concerns accuracy, my view is that both concepts are related. I believe that reliability also involves accuracy, and that precision is also an essential element of reliability. Precision is a necessary element for a technique to be reliable, because if accuracy lacks in a technique, technique cannot be reliable


Crime rate in Asheville, North Carolina (NC): murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts, arson, law enforcement employees, police officers, crime map (n.d). Retrieved on 3 October, 2015 from

Maxfield, M. G., & Babbie, E. R. (2015). Research methods for criminal justice and criminology. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

Uniform Crime Reports (2011). The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Crime Rates in the US, 2011. Retrieved on 3 October, 2015 from