Has Crime in Towns around Lewiston, ME been “Doubling or Higher” Since Somali Immigrants Arrived?
Read the comments to this 2013 Irregular Times article if you’d like to see some cognitive dissonance at work. A lot of people “know” (by which I mean think) that Lewiston, Maine has become a much more crime-ridden place since Somali immigrants arrived there. The trouble is, this is demonstrably untrue. As a matter of fact, the average crime rate the period since Somali immigration to Lewiston began is lower than in the period before Somali immigration:
In the comments to my articles pointing out this simple but challenging truth, you can find a lot of people trying desperately to figure out ways to cling to their false belief that the crime rate is higher in Lewiston, Maine since Somali immigrants came to town. The latest person struggling through this psychological dissonance is GrimmTale, who writes:
“@Jim Cook – You don’t think Somali’s drive a car, take the bus, or ride a bicycle? Because that’s what you’re saying if you believe HIGH spikes in close neighboring towns which have witnessed crime rates doubling or higher since the Somali injection but, ignore that – this crime spike is NOT the result of this injection. Let’s be real here – if there’s nothing in a poverty stricken town to steal, mug, rob, assault – you go to the next town which has affluent (or anything better than in your own town) residents. It’s something anyone with any sense of logic can figure out. Beautiful Maine is falling victim to the effects of wayward immigration, and it will be too late before anything is done to save her. Pity really.”
GrimmTale has made a specific claim — “neighboring towns have witnessed crime rates doubling or higher since the Somali injection” — in the form of a testable hypothesis. Hypotheses can be tested against evidence, and we’ll take a first look at evidence tonight.
The towns surrounding Lewiston, Maine are Auburn, Durham, Greene, Lisbon, Sabattus and Turner. The standard source for crime statistics in towns in the United States is the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, a gathering of local police reports of crimes (whether solved or unsolved) into handily readible tables in the bureau’s annual Crime in the United States reports.
Unfortunately, before 2001 the FBI did not release data on crime in towns less than 10,000 in size, which rules out all but Lewiston’s sister city of Auburn. Even now, the FBI does not share Uniform Crime Report data on the smallest towns (such as Durham, Greene and Turner). Fortunately, Somali immigration began in 2001, so we can start looking there, and also fortunately, three communities are both adjacent to Lewiston and large enough to report data after 2001, when Somali immigrants began to arrive (and 2001 featured the smallest trickle into Lewiston, relatively speaking).
Here are the trends in violent crime rate and property crime rate for Auburn, Lisbon and Sabattus — per 100,000 population — from 2001 to the latest year for which crime statistics are available, 2013:
As you can see, for the most part the violent and property crime rates are down all three neighbors of Lewiston or just about the same as they were. There is no evidence whatsoever for a “doubling or more” in the crime rate since Somali people began to make Lewiston their home. Those seeking to justify their disdain for Somalis will have to move on to some subject other than Lewiston’s crime rate… or the crime rate of these three Lewiston neighbors.
Tomorrow, just in case you think I’m cherrypicking, we’ll consider the crime rates in all of Androscoggin County, Lewiston’s home.