Downward Trend in Violent Crime, Increase in Reports of Rape

Gov. Ned Lamont approaches the podium at a news conference where the state's 2021 crime statistics were announced. (CT Examiner)

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MIDDLETOWN – Gov. Ned Lamont released the annual 2021 crime statistics at a news conference on Monday morning, reporting a continued downward trend in violent crimes with the exception of a 23.2 percent increase in reports of rape. 

Lamont said the state has seen an improvement in trends like violent crimes and property theft for the past 10 to 20 years.

“It’s a testament to the fact that Connecticut continues to be one of the safest states in the country,” Lamont said.

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James Rovella, commissioner of the state Department of Services and Public Protection, said that the downward trend was highly encouraging, and acknowledged the rise in the number of rape reports.

“Last year’s numbers were some of the lowest we’ve ever seen. So an increase is dramatic this time around,” Rovella said.

In 2020, the state reported a rape offense rate of 17.94 per 100,000 residents. 2021’s rate of 22.11 per 100,000 residents is only slightly lower than 2019’s pre-pandemic rate of 22.61.

Ken Barone, project manager for the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy, told CT Examiner that college closures across the state could be a reason why the increase in rape reports is so dramatic compared to the previous year. Most state universities reopened for the fall semester of 2020, continuing into 2021.

“Most colleges went virtual in 2020,” Barone said. “With sexual assaults, a large share of them are reported on college campuses here in Connecticut.”

Beth Hamilton, executive director of Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, said the coalition experienced a dramatic increase in survivors seeking their services over the last two years.

“We saw a 33 percent increase in the number of children under the age of 18 who were coming to our coalition and disclosing being survivors during that time,” Hamilton said. “So for us, it’s not surprising to see that the statistics are coming back up.” 

Hamilton attributed some of the rise in rape reports to concerted efforts by law enforcement. She said improvements can only continue if police understand the impacts of trauma on sexual violence survivors.

“I think we really have a long way to go still in terms of how we, as a society, respond to survivors,” Hamilton said. “Not just law enforcement, but all of us as communities, need to do a better job of really supporting the survivors.”

At the news conference, Lamont said that Connecticut’s commitment to diversionary strategies like Project Longevity and Police Athletic Leagues have helped improve crime rates, but said they still have a lot of work to do.

“One crime, one murder. Obviously, that’s just one too many,” Lamont said. “I know what that does to a community.”

In a written statement to CT Examiner, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski noted that the statistics are largely a year or more old and from when the state was dealing with COVID.

“Unfortunately for Gov. Lamont, the people of CT aren’t stupid and they’re not blind,” Stefanowski said. “You only need to turn on your nightly news, open a newspaper, or talk with your neighbors to know crime in CT is a problem and a growing threat to communities all across our state due to policies that have handcuffed and scapegoated our police and made it harder for them to do their jobs.”

The 2021 statistics reported a decrease in robbery, aggravated assault, property crime, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson compared to 2020. Along with rape, murder and larceny each saw a slight increase of about 2 percent.