Facts and data on violent crime — why resort to them while making a political argument, Bob?
In recent weeks Bob Stefanowski’s nascent campaign for governor seems to have focused on the issue of crime in Connecticut. As someone who has spent the better part of my life doing the same, I was pleased. Over the last few days however his thoughts, as expressed on Twitter and elsewhere, have taken a disappointing turn for the worse.
I understand that it has become trendy in our nation to ridicule “facts” and “data.” For the most part Connecticut citizens have resisted that unfortunate tendency. It does seem odd that a person aspiring to garner votes and become the chief executive of our state would veer off onto the populist road. He has taken to pointing out that those who disagree with his statements are “parsing words and digging into data.”
Although I am loathe to offer advice to Republican candidates generally, here is a suggestion in the form of an open letter of sorts:
“Bob: I get that you are concerned about the recent increase in shootings and murders in our state. We all are. Perhaps it would be more useful for you to find another state, ideally with both a Republican Governor and legislature, that has managed to avoid a significant increase in shootings and murders during the pandemic. That way you could ask a possible future colleague how they managed to accomplish the feat and propose that reform here.
I also understand that you have a lot on your plate this summer, so let me offer a pro tip that will save you some time. You might want to avoid these states: Texas; Oklahoma; Arkansas; Mississippi; Alabama; Georgia; South Carolina; West Virginia; Tennessee; Ohio; Indiana; Missouri; Iowa; Nebraska; South Dakota; North Dakota; Wyoming; Montana; Idaho; Utah and Arizona.
While you are at it, you might want to inquire whether they are experiencing a dramatic increase in thefts of unlocked motor vehicles with the keys left inside.
Once you have completed the survey I predict you will discover what most of the word parsers and data geeks know: the increase in shootings is a recent nationwide phenomenon that seems to have nothing to do with politics, political parties or any state’s policies. It’s also true that the increases in our own state are significantly lower than has been experienced elsewhere. There’s no reason you should take my word for it, so do the homework yourself. Also: Google helps.”
My guess is that Stefanowski will be able to offer more constructive proposals to reduce crime in Connecticut if he takes my recommendation seriously. I encourage him to do so.
Mike Lawlor is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven and was Under Secretary for Criminal Justice for former Gov. Dannel Malloy.
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