There were 409 threats or assaults on Census workers making home visits between May and last Friday, 24 of which were animal attacks and 13 of which involved shots fired, according to data given to TPMmuckraker by the Census Bureau.
The Washington Post had a good story Sunday looking at the hazards of Census work. The paper noted that this year has seen more than double the 181 incidents reported last time around, in 2000.
Census Spokeswoman Shelly Lowe tells us in an email that the jump “is due in part to an increase in households and a more rigorous tracking system.”
Here’s the breakdown of the 409 incidents so far:
- In 10 cases the Census worker was robbed, carjacked, or held against his or her will.
- In 13 cases shots were fired.
- There were 24 animal attacks or threats.
- There were 101 verbal assaults or threats.
- In 132 cases a weapon was pulled or use of a weapon was threatened.
There were 88 physical assaults.
Posts Tagged ‘attacks’
Today, The Washington Post published a very detailed story about incidents involving census workers. Click HERE for the full article. Some highlights:
“So far, the Census Bureau has tallied 379 incidents involving assaults or threats on the nation’s 635,000 census workers, more than double the 181 recorded during the 2000 census. Weapons were used or threatened in a third of the cases.”
“Steven Jost, a spokesman for the Census Bureau, said it is unlikely that the policy prohibiting census workers from carrying weapons will be rescinded.”
“The number of verified incidents might go down after analysis.”
Here’s today’s Daily Sound Off…However, I will say that in my personal dealings with Mr. Le, he has been cordial, respectful, and helpful. I am not sure if it is is his responsibility as a media specialist or the responsibility others in management positions to deal with these issues:
I am a crew leader in Oakland CA.
To date, crimes have been committed against two of my employees, including assault with a deadly weapon and criminal threats.
As a crew leader, I have had to fight with the Oakland Police Department to ensure that the officers take reports on these crimes and report them to the District Attorney’s Office.
I reported the previous assault to my FOS and to management. To date, no one at the LCO has assisted in helping the harmed enumerator. I also reported the assault that occurred earlier tonight, but I don’t expect the LCO to help me.
This evening, I attempted to reach out to Sonny Le, the regional media specialist for the U.S. Census. I explained that my enumerators were unsafe and that I needed his assistance in spreading the word to the community that residents must cooperate with the census and refrain from threatening enumerators.
Mr. Le was abrupt, rude, disrespectful and condescending. He said he “doesn’t answer to me” and, in essence, threatened me with retaliation for daring to speak to him about what is happening to my crew.
Now I understand why the residents of Oakland think it’s OK to physically threaten the enumerators. The LCO and the Regional Census staff have, through inaction, allowed this conduct to continue.
Here’s Mr. Le’s profile:
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.
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.
If you think that working for the U.S. Census Bureau is safe, think again. As we have previously reported, man’s best friend is census listers’ worst enemy. When we previously pressed the folks at the Census Bureau’s Washington HQ for worker safety data, they referred us to look at OSHA’s stats page. However, it is unlikely that this data is accurate because of the sheer number of Census Bureau employees scattered throughout America and the fact that the data for the recent operations will not be tabulated for some time.
Here’s an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Sarasota Herald Tribune detailing a recent vicious attack on census worker:
The most recent attack occurred April 15, as David Fraser, 52, approached the front of the home while gathering data for the U.S. Census.
Fraser’s job for the Census Bureau involves a computer and GPS system, and requires him to go to homes, line up a GPS and push a button that registers that house.
Fraser said he was about 5 feet from the door of the house’s lanai when he heard a “low growling.” Then, he says, in a flash the dog “lurches and succeeded to open the front door” and grab and bit his wrist.
The dog took off and Fraser saw he was bleeding; he ended up at Sarasota Memorial Hospital for a tetanus shot and antibiotics.
Fraser said that under normal circumstances, in light of the dog-warning signs, he might have stayed farther back from the lanai door. But that day, his supervisors had given Census workers “a quality control talk.” Workers were “failing quality controls” and were told they needed to get to within 5 feet of structures before registering them.
Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau have declined to comment on the episode.
If you think this is a first time occurrence, think again. During the 2000 headcount, 71-year old Census Bureau employee Dorothy Stewart was killed by a pack of 18 dogs in Indiana. Here’s an excerpt from an article about Stewart’s tragic death from dogbitelaw.com:
June 10, 2000, Brown County, Indiana. Dorothy Stewart, a worker for the US Census, was attacked and killed by a pack of (more than 18) dogs while collecting census data in Indiana. Her family filed a wrongful death suit and eventually settled with the defendants’ insurance company for the limit of the policy.
Charges of criminal recklessness were filed against the dog owners, because as they had maintained the pack for over 10 years, and numerous other people had run-ins, albeit not fatal, with the dogs. This was the only charge apparently available to the prosecutor due to a loophole in Indiana law. In that state, it is a felony if your dog leaves your property and attacks someone, but not a crime at all if the attack happens on your property. An attempt to change the law last year failed; the bill was watered down — first it would only protect government employees, then only between the hours of 8 and 5, and finally the house and senate couldn’t reconcile their bills and the entire effort to change the law sputtered to a halt.
The prosecutor entered into a plea agreement (dropping drug charges) and the defendants pled guilty. On July 6, 2001, they received the maximum sentence available under the agreement, which was 1.5 years in jail for the wife, and 3 years in jail for the husband.