Data gaps present difficulties in analyzing crime trends and verifying claims, often made by politicians, about crime statistics. Photo by Eric Conrad.
Fewer than half of Maine law enforcement agencies submitted a full range of data to the FBI for the 2021 calendar year, according to a Marshall Project survey.
Almost all of Maine’s 133 law enforcement agencies submitted at least partial data for 2021. Six agencies — Rumford, Gardiner, Searsport, Oxford, Millinocket and Richmond — reported no data.
Data gaps present difficulties in analyzing crime trends and verifying claims, often made by politicians, about crime statistics.
Some of the nation’s largest police departments, such as the New York and Los Angeles Police Departments, were among the 40% of agencies that provided no data, The Marshall Project found.
Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia had higher reporting rates than Maine, which ranked 26th in a list of states with the highest percentage of law enforcement agencies reporting 12 months full of data. Maine recorded 47% of agencies providing 12 months of data.
The lack of data collection comes as the FBI introduced a new data collection system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System in 2021 after retiring its nearly century-old summary reporting system.
Although the transition was announced years ago, nearly 7,000 of the country’s 18,000 law enforcement agencies did not “submit crime data to the voluntary program last year,” according to the report. Marshall Project survey.
Two New England states are most successful in reporting complete data to the FBI: Rhode Island (92%) and Vermont (89%), placing them first and third respectively in the state rankings.
Connecticut ranked ninth (76%), while Massachusetts ranked 14th (60%) and New Hampshire 33rd (41%).
Experts and law enforcement officials have told the Marshall Project that it will take years and millions of dollars for a large police department to transition its data storage system so that it can reporting crime statistics to the FBI’s new system, which means that national crime statistics are about to be unreliable for years.
“It’s going to be very difficult for policy makers to look at what crime looks like in their own community and compare it to similar communities,” Jacob Kaplan, a criminologist at Princeton University, told the Marshall Project.
To learn more about the challenges these data gaps present, read What can FBI data say about crime in 2021? It’s too unreliable to say of the Marshall Project.
To explore data compiled by The Marshall Project, see See if your state’s police have reported crime data to the FBI.
George Harvey is the multimedia editor of The Maine Monitor. Contact him by email: [email protected]