My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Ed O’Keefe: 113 attacks against Census Bureau employees

From Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post:

More than 113 census takers have been the victims of assaults or attacks since April 1, the U.S. Census Bureau said late Wednesday.

In response to inquiries by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Census Director Robert Groves said the bureau’s temporary workers knocking on doors to collect information have faced 29 threats involving a gun, four robberies and three instances of being held against their will or carjacked. Six workers died in car accidents and one was killed while off duty.

The Census Bureau hired about 635,000 people to follow up with people who did not return questionnaires by the end of April. The process is more than half completed, and is scheduled to continue into July.

Bureau officials did not return requests for comment Wednesday night and did not provide comparable figures from the 2000 Census. Twenty-one census workers died on the job between 1998 and 2009, according to agency figures.

Local news reports have revealed some of the incidents, including a census worker carjacked by a 14-year old and a California incident thatresulted in the death of a woman.

Aides said Maloney requested the information to determine whether news reports were accurately reflecting a trend or merely focusing on a few incidents.

“These acts of violence against census enumerators are tragic, especially when you consider these temporary workers were only trying to do their job making sure their neighbors are accurately and fairly counted in the Decennial Census,” Maloney said.

The attacks come as the agency announced stricter hiring rules on Wednesday after a registered sex offender using an alias got a job as a census taker.

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18 Responses to “Ed O’Keefe: 113 attacks against Census Bureau employees”

  1. a nonny moose Says:

    113 out of 635,000. As low as that number is, I wish it would be lower.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    113 reported, documented attacks.

    There are more unreported attacks. We may/may not write down potential troublesome situations on Info-Comms. Some CL and CLA discourage Info-Comm use. However, it helps warn future Census workers of unsafe situations. I’ll say it again. Even though the Kentucky State Police ruled Bill Sparkman’s death a suicide; many Census workers know firsthand what he was going through every day.

  3. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    Well, if I were attacked or even threated, I damn sure would fill out an INFO-COMM, not to mention making a police report if it were actually an attack. And it’s hard for me to imagine any enumerator not doing this, which makes me doubt that there are very many unreported incidents.

  4. cat Says:

    Attacks can be verbal, threatening harm, personal property damage, threats ….

  5. cat Says:

    YAE, at times, you are sarcastic.

  6. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    Not being sarcastic here, if that’s what you mean: I would fill out an INFO-COMM, and I don’t think there are that many unreported incidents. OK with you?

  7. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    And no, threats and attacks are two different things. If someone says they’re going to come over to your house and beat you up, that’s a threat. If the do beat you up, that’s an attack. There are fairly clear laws that deal with these situations.

  8. cat Says:

    LCO and RCC offices hide information, especially negative information.

  9. CLA Midwest Says:

    Assault is legally defined as someone making threats with intention and means of fulfilling them. Battery is when they actually physically harm you. Assault is a crime. However I personally was threatened with shotgun violence and while I filled out an InfoComm and the LCO was made aware immediately (to prevent RI and Quality Control from visiting), no police report was filed. I’m fairly certain the 113 are cases where charges were actually filed.

  10. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    Well, aren’t you going to file a police report on your own? I would. That’s pretty goddamned serious.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    YAE!!! :(

  12. Wolverine State Says:

    An LCO in the “upper Midwest” saw fit to work a sole female employee in the locked office completely alone on a weekend for a number of hours. Safety was apparently not the highest priority that day.

  13. To Infinity and Beyond Says:

    Lip-service. Census workers at our LCO said that our Info-Comms regarding safety concerns, angry public, verbal threats and harassment were filed into boxes similar to the NY recycled boxes sitting on the sidewalk. Info-Comms were trashed.

  14. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    @To Infinity: I highly doubt your story. Why? Because such documents would naturally contain PII, which cannot be disposed of by parking on a sidewalk somewhere.

    We hear stories like this all the time here, but they’re sounding less and less credible. My own experience is that the Census Bureau takes the safety of their employees very seriously.

  15. Anonymous #11 Says:

    Yet Another Enumerator: You live in a perfect world and work in the most perfect LCO in the U.S.

  16. Enumerator John Says:

    http://mediadiscontent.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/as-an-act-of-civil-defiance-failure-to-provide-basic-identifying-information-and-demography-to-the-census-bureau-is-convenient-and-risk-free-though-a-questionable-tactic-in-defense-of-personnel-fr/

  17. your answers are confidential Says:

    Enumerator John: Rex needs to replace the word “personnel” with “personal” in a few sentences.

  18. Rex Taylor Smith Says:

    As regards the comment by ‘your answers are confidential’ to enumerator John: Rex says “OMG – how did such a thing slip past my editor??” How? Because I don’t have one. Anyway, thanks for bringing this to my attention.
    The correction is made.