With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hartford Crime Rates Drop

Reverand Brown at an Anti-Violence Rally this summer.
Earlier this week Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts and Mayor Pedro Segarra announced a 6.9% decrease in "serious crime" from 2009 to 2010. Hilda Munoz of the Hartford Courant, informs us that "serious crime is defined as murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft." All sound pretty serious to us. This is obviously a good thing right? Nobody could be upset about a drop in crime right?

Well remember, this is a positive announcement that has to do with Hartford. When that happens it is time for the naysayers, most certainly not Hartford residents, ( I would venture to guess not even regular visitors to Hartford or any other city for that matter) to immediately denounce the announcement and call Hartford a hellhole, usually followed by some disparaging remarks about minorities.

It is unquestionably easy to manipulate statistics to ones advantage. Give us a set of statistics and we'll return you a half dozen graphs all appearing to say different things. Does every town classify police incidences in way that can be viewed as favorable? Of course they do. So when stating that the drop in Hartford's crime rate is solely based on statistical manipulation one is making quite a few assumptions.

First one is assuming that wholesale statistical manipulation is something new. Like Roberts and Segarra were the first ones to figure out "hey, if we classify this as Crime A instead of Crime B, it won't show up as a serious crime at the end of the year." This isn't a new concept and given that the previous Mayor has been proven to be somewhat deficient in the ethics department, I think we can safely assume that this tactic has been thought of by Hartford politicians before.

That brings us to the second assumption; how far could the statistical manipulation possibly go? Crime is not a new thing to Hartford. If Mayors and Police Chiefs have been "juking the stats" for years wouldn't it get to the point of absurdity if they just kept doing more and more statistical manipulation every year?  Sure you can reclassify "X" amount of crimes one year. Then you can reclassify X+Y in year two, Then in year three you can probably reclassify X+Y+W, but at some point you are going to run out of room. The reality is that there is almost certainly an acceptable range to play with the numbers that every town and municipality operates within.

Without being an expert or privy to the statistics, the homicide number seems like a good number to look at. The report released tells us that there were 34 homicides in Hartford in 2009 and 25 in 2010. That has to be good. Does anyone want to posit that they are hiding the bodies somewhere? Perhaps classifying homicides as suicides or accidents? Sure, I guess it is possible that some psychotic "muscle" types are out there stacking up bodies in vacants around the city, but it's our guess that the homicide stat is a pretty solid one to go off of. 

Mayor Segarra has stated that "one crime is one crime too many." While eradicating crime is never going to happen, it sure seems like the goal we should be striving for. While Hartford still has a long way to go in fighting and deterring crime, we give credit where credit is due and let the constant stream of suburban denouncement fall on dear ears. Believe it or not, progress is possible in Hartford.


  1. I live & work in Hartford and love it, and would never consider myself a so-called "naysayer", but the fact remains: when it's impossible to get any squad car to your residence to take a police report for a robbery, burglary, larceny, etc. (because there wasn't a gun involved? no media glory?) then that incident is not going to make it into the city's crime statistics now, is it?

    What would be telling, statistically-speaking, would be a comparison of number of crimes called in by victims vs. number of crimes responded to/reported by Hartford police. That would be interesting to see...

  2. The police response, or lack there of, is a problem.

    I have called the police to report an out of control party (at a residence they visit frequently) and a squad car never came by.

    I also had an apartment break-in and was told that HPD has all of 3 burglary detectives.

    My guess is these problems are more of a result of the police being understaffed.

  3. I know that I will never be pulled over in Hartford. Whether its because I am a white student or because there is not enough cops to around remains to be seen. My house in Hartford has been robbed 2 times, once while I was sleeping a few feet from the robber. Hartford Police have not come up with anything for either crime, and I never expected them to. I have seen some pretty violent and illegal things in the South End (there is also a police station like half a mile from my apartment.
    With that being said, I rarely feel unsafe in Hartford. Its a city, a poor one; there is always going to be street crime. Being on Park St. you realize that our city is hurting, but I don't lose faith. If you are not asking for trouble you won't get it.

  4. I have lived in Hartford for a very very long time. I have a lot of wonderful family history here. I love this city and can't really explain why. The fact still remains that Hartford will never reach it's potential. It's too tolerant, has a warped sense of entitlement, would never have the guts to make the hard change and has for decades been corrupt. It will never change. With over a 50% non taxable property base it has no choice.