Myers Mermel: Lack of proper crime data reporting undermining law enforcement in Vermont

This commentary is by Myers Mermel, of Manchester. He is a Republican candidate for U.S Senate.

Like many people, I am very concerned about rising crime in Vermont. I have been speaking to some of the most senior law enforcement officers across our state, who have answered my questions as they would answer the questions of any citizen. I haven’t gotten special treatment, but I have promised them that I will not reveal their identities as they do not want to be involved with politics. What I have discovered and confirmed has shocked me. Some may well be aware of the problem, but for others, let me outline it for you. I will start with my conclusion and then provide you with the assumptions. I think a reasonable person would be hard pressed not to agree with me.

The conclusion is that a lack of crime data reporting by the Department of Justice, whatever the motive, is undermining the efforts of Vermont law enforcement to increase public safety.

Myers Mermel

Myers Mermel

Currently, parts of the crime reporting system used by Vermont are controlled by the federal government through its Department of Justice. How did our state-wide crime reporting come to be controlled by the federal government? I do not know at this point, but its effects are very clear and negative.

What is happening is that the Vermont Crime Information Center compiles and reports law enforcement incidents from across the state to the Department of Justice through the FBI. That’s good. The Department of Justice is then supposed to compile, analyze, and report the data back to Vermont. The problem is that the Department of Justice has not published its analyses, summaries or reports since 2020.

What that means is that the citizens of Vermont have absolutely no way of knowing what has been happening with crime across the state for the past year and a half. We can’t identify troubled areas and fix them. We don’t know what types of crime are up or down. We don’t know the situation on the ground. And here’s the bad result: Since the citizens do not know what’s happening, they cannot support law enforcement when it asks for more resources. We know our police are suffering scores of resignations and are having trouble recruiting. When they ask for help like last summer in Burlington, instead of getting help from the public, they are attacked for fear mongering.

But how is the public to know to help if it doesn’t have the information? When the police are short-staffed, they cannot function as well and as widely. Making the police suffer shortages in staffing through resignations achieves the same result as defunding. The lack of accurate data reporting is preventing the public from knowing about crime and the public from coming to the aid of the police. The result is that police staffing is suffering, and morale is low. A lack of timely public crime information is undermining our law enforcement. As crime worsens without public knowledge, police ranks are shrinking. Lack of timely information is a contributing factor in the hollowing of our police forces over the past year and one half.

Let me point to the particulars. The state, through the Vermont Crime Information Cente,r used to issue a yearly Crime Report. (See: https://vcic.vermont.gov/content/calendar-years-2010-2019 ). These crime reports stopped being released publicly after 2016. These reports are the basis of what we need (using all 56 crime types in the report). Vermont then moved to an incident reporting system called the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). The policing incidents that go into NIBRS are reported to the Department of Justice. The summaries of incidents are only found in the Department of Justice Crime Data Explorer (see: https://crime-data-explorer.fr.cloud.gov/pages/home ). As you can see for Vermont, in the Crime Data Explorer, the last statistics are from 2020. The reason given for the delay is that the particulars of each incident could change once more information is eventually known, so nothing is reported. That’s like me saying I can’t tell you what time the sun rose today because the time will change a few weeks from now. They should report what happened and then revise it, if need be, but they don’t do that anymore.

I would like to think that the Department of Justice is making an honest mistake. Politics should never compromise public safety. But why does it take a year and one half to tabulate crime? The facts are that the system became unavailable six years ago and then was turned off after the national election in 2020.

We know that crime has risen, and many public figures have pushed for police defunding. This makes me inclined to think the delays in crime reporting might not be accidental. We know that crime was at a statewide 10-year high at the beginning of 2021 when Christina Nolan was replaced as U.S. Attorney by then acting U.S. Attorney Jon Ophardt (see: https://www.news10.com/news/vt-news/vermont-public-safety-officials-violent-crime-at-highest-level-in-10-years/ ). The citizens do not know what has happened in Vermont since then.

As a candidate for U.S. Senate one of my primary tasks, if elected, would be coordinate the federal response with the state government to ensure the safety of our citizens. I would radically reform the current system as it now exists. I believe Vermont must control and publish its own statistics, ideally on a quarterly basis, regardless of what the Department of Justice does. If we are to come to grips with the problem, we need to consider a reporting system like Chief Bill Bratton constructed for cleaning up crime in New York City in 1990s. We don’t need to buy new systems necessarily, but we need to adapt what we have. Current and accurate crime information will allow the public to support the police with resources, will restore police staffing, and will improve morale.

The current crime situation in Vermont appears to be worsening rapidly. We don’t have the data to fix it because we no longer have statewide crime summaries through the Department of Justice, whatever the reason for the delay. We need to ensure that Vermont receives the proper and timely reporting of crime statistics so that we can properly address rising crime.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Scott Davidson and Myers Mermel
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10 thoughts on “Myers Mermel: Lack of proper crime data reporting undermining law enforcement in Vermont

  1. Too many Soros-supported prosecutors around the country have signed on to the guilt trip of “we can’t keep locking up our young, Black men”. Meanwhile liberals wring their hands over the overdose death toll, despite the tens of thousands of Vermont tax dollars spent on Narcan. The plain and simple fact is that organized criminal gangs from southern New England and regional cities like NYC and Philadelphia are primarily responsible for supplying Vermont with deadly fentanyl, other opioids and cocaine/crack. It just happens that these organized groups are primarily made up of non-white individuals. With that being the situation, along with Vermont’s “lack of diversity”, the PERCEPTION of race bias in law enforcement cannot be helped. The statistics are clear on this. We can make the choice to persuade law enforcement to turn a blind eye and continue to allow the roughly 200 Vermonters to die from overdosing on synthetic opioids annually, in order to deter the PERCEPTION of racism. Most of the prosecutors are already onboard with this strategy. We have made the choice to trade lives to avoid hurt feewings and race guilt.

  2. The recent apparent wave of violent crime in Vermont, particularly that involving firearms would be very useful for the demoprogs who wish to impose more gun restrictions on the law-abiding. However, there is a pervasive commonality of the perpetrators regarding ethnicity which messes with their leftist narrative about “celebrating diversity” that instead gets those statistics swept under the rug. What a conundrum for the left…Fortunately, most intelligent people who pay attention know what is going on. We can only hope that the usual sheeple who vote for demoprogs have had enough of both the crime AND the coverup.

    • Of course it is a black crime data coverup. On one hand Vermont warmly embraces all things BLM….on the other hand, look at the violent crime statistics in VT and nationwide They don’t lie.

      And this just out this morning? It is what happens when Liberals, Dems and Progressives run major cities (into the ground)….crime waves & murder. This happens in CHICAGO every week! But it never makes news…these are NON MEDIA reported mass shootings & mayhem, illegal & unregistered guns…and guess what it is? For most part it is Blacks shooting Blacks. But as long as it is a Liberal controlled city, no one will care- because these are: “Black-Lives-That-Really-Don’t-Matter”:

      “Report: 32 Shot Friday into Sunday Morning in Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago”

  3. It sounds like some of the ideas from the Vermont Democratic Party Platform are already in place. Here are just two of their suggestions under item 5, Justice and Community Safety :

    Expand access to expungement, including by enacting a system to automatically expunge criminal records, so that those who have repaid their debt to society can make a fresh start;

    Adopt an approach to the possession and misuse of drugs that is motivated solely by the principles of public health and harm reduction, rather than punishing undesirable private behavior, while avoiding the criminal justice system altogether;

  4. Whatever is going on every state needs the crime data for their state……including Vermont
    I would encourage our State to put it together regardless of what the Federal Gov is doing with it
    unbelievable its not automatically tabulated when received on a regular basis
    WE CANNOT keep turning over control of ourselves/lives/more to the Federal Gov
    they are doing a s…show job and we all know it

  5. Can VT not keep it’s own crime database? It would not be that hard to set up as it is already being reported to the Feds. That data can simultaneously be sent to a State run database.

  6. I don’t understand how compling more crime data – will prevent any future crimes? Criminals care not what data you have…they just want to do bad things. If you want to address crime, let Law Enforcement have the ability to do so. I’ve mentioned before….but Barre has a huge drug & crime problem. What good is it to compile more stats on the Barre crime? Barre Police know who the drug dealers are, where they live, who they sell to…how they sell….and even when they leave to get supply out of state…..drug mules. The police have their hands tied…..they need warrants to arrest criminals & drug dealers – but to get that they endure huge red tape, delay & a Judge…”Probable Cause”….but the police already have what they need…documented & compiled. Judges sometimes don’t allow the warrants…maybe because it may be seen as “racist” if the drug dealer is Black….. and even if one is granted, the drug dealer may be represented by the ACLU or Public Defender’s Office, and perhaps an arrest is thrown out on “technicalities”. That has happened I was told by a Barre Policeman. We don’t need more “data”…stats are already there.. You need more support…and even aggressive….Law enforcement ..good luck with that 🙂

    • The lack of criminal data is the exact reason why the last mass shooter and others were allowed to buy a gun at 18 or 20 years old. The criminal instant background check system cannot possibly be accurate unless the data reaches the system. I’ve pointed this out before. Every day in America in every city, town, county, state and federal court, crimes and court cases take place. It is impossible for a background check to be accurate on any given day. Every day the data changes because of the volume of arrests, assault, murders or anything that would prevent a person from buying a firearm will not stop them if the information is not there in the data base. The military is notorious for not reporting crime incidents and some of the states are lax in reporting too. While the system works most of the time, there is no way of knowing how accurate it is. And those who lie on the form 4473 could be convicted and fined $10,000.00. There were over 12,000 recent purchase refusals and almost no enforcement of that law. So, why do we need more laws that won’t be enforced.

      As for other crime statistics, if they are being withheld through incompetence or to prevent people from knowing the real crime statistics because of an ideology to defund the police. Less crime in the statistic supports that claim. Nothing works unless the information to make decisions is accurate and properly reported.

      • Or, is the refusal to release updated statistics by thie Gov’t reated to “bad optics”…..Here is a quote from a report (believe it or not) from VT Public Radio…this does not fit with VT’s warm embrace of BLM. But I still believe that whatever more statistics may come… they are just more red tape figures to bandy about, and no one will ever be able to do anything really meaningful with the data…Law Enforcement is held back – in a myriad of ways…I had a long chat with a Barre policeman about it a few years back. I bet similar of any VT policeman…frustrated at inaction – and they are seen as the problem.

        So read this from VPR…

        “Nellis is the author of a 2016 report called The Color of Justice: Racial and Ethnic Disparity in State Prisons…..“Vermont … actually has the highest rate in the country of adult black male incarceration, and it has the third highest rate of incarceration for African-Americans overall,” Nellis says. Here are some other ways to wrap your head around the numbers. You can compare Vermont to the rest of the country: “Nationally the ratio is about five-to-one black-white incarceration. And in Vermont it’s more than 10-to-one,” Nellis says….Or you can think in terms of our state’s population: “Only 1 percent of the population in Vermont is African-American but 11 percent of its prison population is black,” Nellis says.”

        Is it “racism” that puts Blacks in VT’s jails?….. Or did they commit a serious crime and got caught? Could that be a reason why the Gov’t hides crime data – that is opposite of the uber permissive “idiology” in VT??

        • All the activist blather about Vermont’s lack of “equity” in policing may be true to some extent, although it likely works both ways. With all the heightened scrutiny on law enforcement officers about targeting “people of color”, you have to believe that there are plenty of instances where an officer observes a car running a red light, rolling through a stop sign or speeding and when they catch up and visually realize the driver is a POC, the officer just pretends to look the other way and thinks to themself: this is not worth the grief and the scrutiny. Being a “person of melanin” in Vermont can just as easily be a distinct advantage for those seeking to avoid police interaction.

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