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What happened to the Cumberland County Crime Forecaster?

At the beginning of 2017, The Sentinel began running a weekly model estimating the number of criminal cases that would be filed by the end of the year. The project was titled the Cumberland County Crime Forecaster.

The project was created in response to a substantial increase in case filings between 2015 and 2016. Total cases filings increased by roughly 500 in 2016, a more than 10 percent year-to-year increase.

A simple model using case filing information entered in the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania for all cases entered between 2013 and 2016 was created and designed to track what percentage of the total number of cases are filed in any given week.

The broad patterns in filings, namely that the county would handle a significant increase in DUI and drug case filings and a significant decrease in property crime case filings by the end of 2017, held generally true throughout the year.

The overall numbers, however, missed the mark for much of the year.

So what happened?

The model used one major assumption: That 2017 would follow a similar pattern to every other year.

That assumption was wrong.

The average number of cases being filed in the county each week began to rise at the beginning of 2016, going from 88 cases a week in the first three months to 100 cases per week in the last three months, according to court data.

That trend continued in the first half of 2017, holding at 100 cases per week in the first three months and 104 cases in the second three months, court records show.

From there, case filings dropped substantially.

By the end of 2017, weekly case filings were back down to about 88 cases per week, according to court records.

The year ended with significant increases in DUI and drug case filings that were almost completely offset by a reduction in property crime cases, according to court records.

Overall case filings remained largely flat between 2016 and 2017.

In 2017, The Sentinel replaced the Crime Forecaster with a listing of five highest cash bails for cases filed in the county each week.

Look for a review of the major trends and stories in criminal justice in Cumberland County last year in the upcoming weekend, Monday and Tuesday editions of The Sentinel online and in print.

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Email Joshua Vaughn at Follow him on Twitter at @Sentinel_Vaughn.


Cops & Courts Reporter

Crime & Courts Reporter at The Sentinel.

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