Accurate statistics are an important part of understanding trends in society. If you want to understand what issues or challenges you are facing, or what actions have brought positive change, you need the numbers to back it up. But what if those numbers simply don’t exist?
These are the challenges currently faced by those hoping to understand crime statistics nationwide. According to The Marshall Project, which has compiled data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime statistics collection program, nearly 40% of local law enforcement agencies across the country have failed to submit their data, leading to gaps in understanding of these trends.
For its part, Connecticut’s many police departments fare much better than average. According to the statistics compiled by The Marshall Project, 76% of the state’s law enforcement agencies reported a full year of statistics to the FBI by the February 2022 deadline. They note that some of these statistics may have improved slightly by the following deadline. That works out to 81 out of the state’s 107 agencies.
Of the remaining agencies, every one of them reported at least some statistics during 2021 but is missing one or more months. Police departments in New Haven, Hartford, East Hartford, Milford, Windsor, Simsbury, Bloomfield, Stonington, Avon, Madison, Suffield, Plainfield, Windsor Locks, Canton, and several university police departments reported 11 months of data. Seven departments reported 10 months or fewer, with Newington and New London reporting the fewest number of months (8 and 7 respectively).
The under-reported departments represent about 800,000 people or 21% of the state’s population. These agencies are among 4,000 nationwide who reported only partial data, which is still better than those who did not report any data whatsoever.
Criminologists speaking to reporters with The Marshall Project said that these gaps in data reporting “will make it harder to analyze crime trends and fact-check claims politicians make about crime, and we’ll likely have to live with greater uncertainty for at least a couple of years.”