When the FBI issues their annual Uniform Crime Report, news agencies across the nation seek to glean headlines from the data. But, often the reporters and the people reading the report don't completely understand what they are looking at. Such is the case with the preliminary report this year and sexual assaults within the Bridgeport area. Fortunately, the CT Post is seeking to clear things up.
At first blush, the UCR indicates cases of forcible rape in the area have tripled from 116 in 2011 to 388 in 2012. If these numbers told the whole story, it would be alarming. And while no number of sexual assaults is acceptable, these numbers can be extremely misleading.
Bridgeport police spokesperson William Kaempffer cautions against drawing hasty conclusions.
“Investigators encounter cases in which a suspect is accused in dozens or in some cases hundreds of assaults with the same or small number of victims,” said Kaempffer. “That does not mean Bridgeport has a higher rate of sexual assaults.”
For instance, one man last year was arrested on 156 different counts against a single child between 2007 and 2008. Another arrested last year was charged with 80 counts against a single victim.
When police agencies submit data to the FBI for inclusion in the UCR, they do so according to the number of individual incidents. In other words, each count is submitted separately. When you consider this, it's easy to see how a three-fold increase from one year to the next doesn't necessarily mean the city is more dangerous.
Often, stories like this one, where the numbers tell a different story than the facts behind them, are used by the media to elicit a shock and awe factor from the people. But stunts like this are what cause people to have an unnecessary fear of their neighbors and communities.
When it comes to sexual assault, most suspects are known by the victim—these aren't strangers being attacked on city sidewalks. Also, an arrest doesn't necessarily make someone guilty.
Whether you are accused of a drug offense or a assault charge, you have rights. And while some crimes carry a greater stigma and can be more embarrassing, you are innocent until proven guilty. When faced with serious charges, you need someone on your side advocating for the best results possible in court. Contact my office today to discuss how I might be able to help.