Unlike in the cities, more police doesn’t mean less crime in suburbs

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Violent crime in urban areas of Connecticut

Trend CT’s analysis of crime data shows that having more police officers doesn’t mean less crime, at least in suburban areas.

But in densely populated urban areas, more officers seem to correlate with less crime — especially when it comes to violent crime, murders, robberies and aggravated assault. There were weaker correlations between the staffing numbers of municipal police departments and the rate of burglaries and rapes.

An analysis of 2012 Uniform Crime Reporting data for police departments in Connecticut shows the number of police does not necessarily correlate to crime as strongly as it does in urban areas.

This is according to the 2012 data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics. We defined urban areas as the 15 most densely populated cities in Connecticut.

The images to the right are scatterplots charting police staff per capita versus crime per capita. Over each chart, there is a number between -1 and 1. If the number is closer to 1, if means there is more crime in towns as there are more officers; if it’s closer to -1, if means there is less crime as there are more officers. And the closer to 0, the weaker the correlation. For example, the chart for “violent crime” has the number -.23 above it, which means there is less violent crime as there are more officers — but it’s only a weak correlation.

The rate of police staff in urban areas has a high correlation with violent crimes, murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults.

The highest police officer rate in Connecticut was the Groton Long Point Department, with one police officer for every 90 residents in 2011. The police district, one of three in the Town of Groton, had seven officers serving a population of 631. But that number is skewed because, according to the city, seasonal residents and guests temporarily bring the population up to 5,000. This is the case with many coastal towns.

But that year at Groton Long Point, each officer only dealt with, on average, three crimes — also among the lowest in the state.

New London had about one officer for every 241 residents — among the highest per capita — but there were 92 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2011, fourth-worst in the state. New Haven has about one officer for every 247 residents, also among the most per capita, but there were about 140 crimes for every 1,000 residents in 2011 — tops in the state.

But which officers had to deal with the most crime? Police in New Haven, Stratford and New Britain were tops when it came to number of crimes per officer.

Dozens of towns in Connecticut whose jurisdictions are covered by the State Police have higher rates of crime per officer, but hard numbers are hard to pin down because troopers often cover more than one town. We gathered data from three different data sets to give readers a sense of how municipalities compare.

More notes on the staffing-to-population data:

  • There are about four police personnel for every 1,000 residents in New London New Haven, and Hartford. Those are relatively high rates, but a few towns with large summer populations, like Groton Long Point, outpace those urban towns.
  • In East Hampton, there’s only one officer per 1,000 residents — one of the fewest in the state among towns with their own municipal department.

There is table above, there is a crime-per-staffing ratio. Keep in mind that more crime per officer does not necessarily indicate more crime in the town — merely that more crime is being reported and worked by staff.

Some notes on the methodology:

Though there are more recent statistics for crime in Connecticut, we decided to focus on 2011 because that’s the most thorough State Police personnel numbers we could find.

This analysis brings together three datasets focusing on police departments in Connecticut — one from the FBI and one from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. Data for law enforcement personnel was missing for towns that share Connecticut State Police resources. So we filled in the blanks with data from the Office of Legislative Research, created a new shape file to create jurisdiction borders for Groton City, Groton Long Point, and Willimantic, and ran our analysis.

Though the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics are much more extensive and include clearance rates, for this analysis, “total crime” was determined by adding up murder, manslaughter, rapes committed, rapes attempted, robberies, offenses, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies, vehicle thefts, arsons and assaults by town.

Notice anything else in the data? Let us know in the comments.

What do you think?

  • George R

    Ridgefield is looking good: by far the lowest crime rate in the state…