Maine law enforcement agencies get better at reporting crime stats to FBI

Data gaps present challenges to analyze crime trends and fact-check claims, often made by politicians, on crime statistics.
Handcuffs sit on a table
Photo by Eric Conrad.

For a second consecutive year, less than half of law enforcement agencies in Maine have submitted a full scope of data to the FBI, according to analysis by The Marshall Project.

Nonetheless, Maine’s reporting was better than most states. Only seven states and the District of Columbia had higher reporting rates than Maine, better than last fall when twenty-four states and the District of Columbia had higher reporting rates than Maine. 

All but three of Maine’s 130 law enforcement agencies have submitted at least partial data for 2022, The Marshall Project reported. Baileyville, Millinocket and Rumford failed to report any data. 

Baileyville had reported nine months of data for 2021 while Millinocket and Rumford also failed to report any data for 2021. 

Gardiner, Oxford and Richmond, which failed to report any 2021 data, reported partial data for 2022. Searsport fully reported its 2022 data after not reporting 2021 data. 

The lack of data collection continues as a result of the FBI’s new data collection system, the National Incident-Based Reporting System, introduced in 2021 when the agency retired its nearly century-old Summary Reporting System. 

The gaps present challenges to analyze crime trends and fact-check claims, often made by politicians, on crime statistics. 

GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, boasted that the Sunshine State saw its crime rate hit a 50-year low in 2021. The statistic relied on incomplete data, according to The Marshall Project, as more than 40% of the state’s population was missing from Florida’s state-level crime data in 2021.

More disturbing for experts, according to The Marshall Project, is the challenges the missing data presents to the federal government. 

“When the FBI released its 2021 national crime data last fall, it couldn’t say if crime went up, went down, or stayed the same,” The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization, reported. “The FBI concluded that all three scenarios could be possible because of the gaps in the data collection.”

When national datasets were released last fall, it appeared hate crime instances had fallen in the U.S. — in reality, roughly 7,000 police departments had not reported hate crime data. When the FBI asked those departments to submit the data through the old system, the numbers showed hate crimes rose 12% from 2020 to 2021. 

To read more about the challenges these data gaps present, read 4 Reasons We Should Worry About Missing Crime Data from The Marshall Project. 

To explore the data compiled by The Marshall Project, check out See If Police in Your State Reported Crime Data to the FBI.


George Harvey

George Harvey is the Multimedia Editor for The Maine Monitor. He oversees digital and newsletter production, coordinates social media content and shares the work of The Maine Monitor’s staff writers and contributors with media partners around the state. George previously worked in athletics administration, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University.
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