MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A newspaper investigation has found the Milwaukee Police Department has misrepresented hundreds of serious incidents as minor assaults to the FBI.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel probe found that since 2009 the department has reported more than 500 incidents that qualify as aggravated assaults to the FBI as simple assaults.

The misreporting has the effect of driving down the city's violent crime rate. If the department had properly classified last year's incidents, the violent crime rate would have risen 1.1 percent instead of falling 2.3 percent, as Chief Edward Flynn announced.

Flynn attributed the mistakes to human and computer error. He says all major city police departments miscode a percentage of crimes but promised his staff would revise the classifications.