CT violent crime declines overall, but murders and sex assaults up in 2021, report shows

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Connecticut's aggravated assaults dropped to a 10-year low in 2021, according to a new report from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

Connecticut's aggravated assaults dropped to a 10-year low in 2021, according to a new report from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

Connecticut State Police / Contributed Photo

Despite an uptick in murder and rape reports, Connecticut overall saw a decrease in violent crime last year, according to a new report from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

The decrease is mostly due to fewer aggravated assault cases, which fell from 3,699 in 2020 to 3,079 in 2021. This is the lowest number of aggravated assault cases the state has seen in the past 10 years, DESPP Commissioner James Rovella said Monday during a news conference in Middletown. 

"These are the assaults committed by hands, bats, knives, non-fatal shootings," Rovella said. "They're down dramatically, they're down quite a bit which is good to see." 

"In my world, a shooting victim is just an inch or a millimeter away from a homicide victim," Rovella continued. "In the '90s and '80s, I saw far, far worse numbers than this ... so these numbers are highly encouraging." 

Crimes by Agency

Crime in Connecticut

The chart shows the total number of crimes that the local police department for each municipality reported to the National Incident-Based Reporting System. Crime totals for 2022 are as of Sept. 26. 

  2020 2021 2022
Bridgeport 6,965 6,041 3,035
Danbury 2,428 2,861 2,239
Greenwich 1,091 990 609
Middletown  1,501 1,246 681
New Haven  14,492 13,938 6,266
Norwalk 3,279 2,892 1,695
Stamford  4,945 5,041 3,136
Torrington 1,184 1,142 678

Source: Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection

DESPP released the state's annual crime statistics report on Monday. The report contains data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which law enforcement agencies across the state use monthly.

Violent crimes — which include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — dropped below 6,000 for the first time in 10 years. The 5,957 violent crimes reported in 2021 were a 9.04 percent drop from the 6,549 reported in 2020, according to the report. 

Gov. Ned Lamont called this a "positive trend" and commended the state's police agencies. He also credited diversion programs and other practices that promote safety across the state.

The state has seen more violent crimes in the past. From 2012 to 2018, Connecticut reported 7,000 or more violent crimes each year. Some 10,361 violent crimes were reported in 2012 alone, the report said. 

Of the 5,957 violent crimes reported in 2021, some 2,441 of those — or 40 percent — were considered "cleared," according to the report. 

For a crime to be "cleared," at least one person has been arrested, charged or turned over to the court for prosecution or "some element beyond police control precludes the physical arrest of the offender." This could mean the suspect died, the victim refused to cooperate or the offender confessed while in police custody, according to the report.

Murder and negligent manslaughter were up about 2 percent, or about three more victims than the previous year. Of the 150 cases, 98 were considered cleared, the report said. 

There were also 148 more rape cases, or a 23 percent increase from the previous year, totaling 786 cases in 2021. In 2020, the state had 638 rape cases, or "some of the lowest [numbers] we've ever seen," according to Rovella. 

The DESPP commissioner believes the dramatic increase is due to the pandemic easing. 

"I suspect after coming off of COVID that reporting for a victim of sexual assault is not only difficult on its onset, but it's also difficult a month or a few months down the road for those folks, but we're seeing that they are making these complaints," he said. 

Some 163 of the 786 rape cases, or about 20.7 percent, were cleared, according to the report. 

Crime overall dropped slightly from 62,689 in 2020 to 60,921 in 2021, or by about 2.8 percent. The number of crimes is still higher than the 57,845 reported in 2019, according to the report. 

As of Monday, the state's data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System showed there were 69,534 crimes so far this year. 

The 2021 reports are still lower than what the state has seen in the last 10 years. From 2012 to 2017, Connecticut saw more than 70,000 crimes annually with a high of 87,462 crimes in 2012, the report said. 

Property crimes — including burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft — also decreased in 2021. The 54,964 property crimes reported in 2021 were a slight dip from the 56,140 in 2020. In the past 10 years, Connecticut saw the least number of reported property crimes in 2019 at 51,236 and the most in 2012 at 77,101, according to the report. 

These crime statistics are typically released around this time of year through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting program. Lamont said releasing the statistics before the FBI was not a political ploy ahead of November's election.

"This was just a commissioner saying, 'Governor, the numbers are ready, we want to put them out,'" Lamont said.

Rovella concurred, saying he's had the data for about a month and had been waiting for the FBI to release its report. He said other states, including Michigan, North Carolina and Nevada, have also released their reports. 

"I don't think that it's appropriate that I hold onto these numbers any longer," Rovella said. "They should come out now because this is usually traditionally the time we put them out," Rovella said. 

Once the FBI releases its report, Rovella said the state's information will be updated with federal data. 

House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora called the state's report "troubling," citing the issues police departments are having in hiring qualified applicants. 

“The Connecticut State Police force is down 360 trooper positions, and, CSP and our local police forces cannot recruit qualified people because of the handcuffs the majority Democrats have placed on our public safety personnel," Candelora said. 

There are a total of 9,038 law enforcement personnel in Connecticut, or about 2.5 employees per 1,000 people, according to the report. In 2012, there was 10,229 law enforcement personnel in the state or about 2.85 employees per 1,000 people.  

"Ask your neighbors and friends if they feel safer today, despite what this report says, after the majority party has decriminalized some offenses, emptied out state prisons, lessened penalties and altered bail requirements in recent years," Candelora continued. "Moving the goal posts may make for better outcomes in mandated reports six weeks before an election, but it doesn’t make us any safer."