Location:
CRIME AND CRIMINALS ; POLICE;

OLR Research Report


December 29, 2009

 

2009-R-0463

STATISTICS ON ASSAULTS AGAINST POLICE OFFICERS
IN CONNECTICUT

By: Duke Chen, Legislative Analyst

You specifically wanted to know the number of assaults that have been made on Connecticut police officers, the charges brought against those accused of such assaults, the charges for which they were convicted, and the criminal penalties. Finally, you wanted to know whether neighboring states have imposed higher penalties for assaulting police officers and what those penalties are.

SUMMARY

The number of assaults against police officers in Connecticut has averaged around 714 per year from 1997-2006, the last year for which consistent data is available. As Attachment 1 shows, the number of assaults during this period fluctuated from a high of 805 in 1997 to a low of 648 in 1999.

Under the law, assaulting a police officer and other specified public safety officials is a Class C felony (CGS 53a-167c). A Class C felony carries the punishment of imprisonment for 1-10 years and up to a $10,000 fine.

The Connecticut Judicial Department compiles these and other crime statistics based on the number of times someone is charged with a criminal offense. Because the database does not break down the charges brought under this statute by the type of officer assaulted, we can only report the aggregate number of charges and outcomes for assaulting all officers, not just police officers. As Table 1 below shows, from 2004-2008, the average number of offenses per year for all public safety officers during this period is 1,210; the number of assaults ranged from 1,161 per year to 1,256 per year.

With the exception of New Hampshire, all the New England States, as well as New Jersey and New York have statutes that make assaulting a police officer a higher penalty than an assault on other people. As Attachment 2 shows, New York appears to have the most stringent punishment, consisting of three to 15 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Conversely, Vermont appears to have the most lenient punishment, consisting of up to one year in prison and up to a $1,000 fine.

CRIME AND PROSECUTION OF ASSAULTING AN OFFICER

(CGS 53a-167c)

By law, an assault of a police officer is a class C felony crime, which means if convicted, imprisonment of one to 10 years and up to a $10,000 fine. This provision also applies to assaults on other state officials including public safety personnel, emergency medical personnel, Department of Motor Vehicles inspectors, firefighters, emergency room physicians or nurses, correction officers, members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles, probation officers, and certain employees charged with the protection of children in the judicial process.

Using a Judicial Department database, we compiled case statistics for crimes prosecuted under CGS 53a-167c. Because the data is entered in the database without separating assaults for the different types of public safety officers, we can only report the total number of assault charges and outcomes for all public safety officers, not just for police officers.

The data in Table 1 is based on offenses disposed of by the courts. An individual is often charged with multiple offenses in the same case. And an individual might also have multiple cases during a year.

Offenses can be disposed of in a number of ways. Because an individual is often charged with multiple offenses in the same case, some charges might be dismissed as part of an agreement to plead guilty to other charges. For example, if an individual was charged under CGS 53a-167c and another crime, then worked out a plea deal for the other crime that did not include the assault charge, that offense would be categorized as a dismissal. The plea statistics in Table 1 refer to pleas for assaults against all officers.

Table 1: Outcome of Prosecution under CGS 53a-167c

2004-2008

 

Guilty

Not Guilty

Dismissed

Fiscal Year

Offenses

Jury Guilty

Conviction

Plea

Jury Not Guilty

Non-Jury

Not Guilty

Nolle

2004

1,227

2

97

272

2

1

853

2005

1,220

1

104

322

8

2

783

2006

1,188

5

60

325

3

1

794

2007

1,256

8

47

380

9

0

812

2008

1,161

4

26

382

2

1

746

Source: Judicial Department

DC:ts

Attachment 1: Assaults Against Police Officers in Connecticut

1997-2006

Year

Number of Assaults

1997

805

1998

732

1999

648

2000

657

2001

721

2002

707

2003

663

2004

732

2005

709

2006

761

Source: Connecticut Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, available at http://www.dir.ct.gov/dps/ucr/ucr.aspx.

Attachment 2: Survey of Neighboring States' Penalties for Assaulting Public Safety Officers

State and Statute Citation

Imprisonment

Fine

Connecticut

CGS 53a-167c

1-10 years

Up to $10,000

Maine

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. t:t. 17-A 752-A

Not more than five years

Up to $5,000

Massachusetts

Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 265, 13D

Not less than 90 days nor more than two and half years

Not less than $500 nor more than $5,000

New Hampshire

No Statute

New Jersey

N.J. Stat. 2C:12-1(b)(5)(a)

If victim suffers bodily injury: three to five years

If victim does not suffer bodily injury: up to 18 months

Up to $15,000

Up to $10,000

New York

N.Y. Penal Law 120.08 and 120.11

Assault: three to fifteen years

Aggravated Assault: three to twenty five years

Up to $5,000 for either assault or aggravated assault

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws 11-5-5

Not more than three years

not more than $1,500

Vermont

Vt. Stat. Ann. t:t., 1028

Not more than one year

not more than $1,000