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More trouble for census workers

By Ed O'Keefe

A 14-year-old faces carjacking and first-degree kidnapping charges for stealing the car of a 50-year-old U.S. Census Bureau employee in Connecticut, while Houston police are investigating the killing of a man by a suspect that identified himself as a census worker.

In Connecticut the census worker told police that the teen approached with a gun in hand, ordered him out of his car and stole his money, according to local news reports. The teen drove off but later returned and ordered the census worker to drive him to another area.

The Houston incident involved three suspects, one of whom reportedly identified himself as a census worker but produced no identification. The suspects stabbed and killed the homeowner and then beat others in the home. Police provided no descriptions of the subjects.

The incidents follow the deaths of six census workers in auto accidents this month. Twenty-one census employees died on the job between 1998 and last year, according to the Census Bureau, including a Kentucky worker whose death was eventually ruled a suicide.

The Census Bureau reminds homeowners to ask census workers for their identification and workers should be carrying a 2010 Census tote bag. The agency provides workers with detailed training and tips on how to protect themselves, including reminders to park cars in safe areas and to inform supervisors if they feel unsafe in certain neighborhoods.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | May 10, 2010; 10:10 AM ET
Categories:  Census, Workplace Issues  
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Comments

who would be surprised at census workers gathering information about age of homeowners an people living in the house,

and then selling it to their buddies on the street corner? hmm not me

Qualified workers who passed the test with flying colors right here in Rockville wwre passed over for guess who?

the people responsible work right at the census bureau.

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | May 10, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I am a first time census enumerator ("census taker") located in Central Florida and was upset, but not surprised, to see the troubles my colleges are having across the country. From my own experience I can say that the Census Bureau has done a reasonable job in it's attempt to train the 2010 census takers but it is a nearly impossible task preparing people, most very short-term employees, for all the circumstances that may arise in the field. Certainly some areas present more dangers and challenges than others. For my part there have been only a few negative experiences so far, but what has been evident is a general distrust and/or ambivalence towards the government and thus the census takers who represent it. All too often citizens are reluctant or reticent to give their personal information for fear of it's use outside the census mission. I at once find these fears understandable (given the much publicized overreaches of the US Patriot Act)and overstated (given my training and the long standing, constitutionally mandated mission of the census)and disheartening that our citizens have grown so wary of our democratically elected governance. Of course I'm in Florida, one of the most transient states in the union, and thus face the typical suburban problem that neighbors can live for years at an address and not care to know even the occupancy status of the home next door. The experience of being an enumerator has proven at times enjoyable, meeting and talking with a diverse selection of Americans, frustrating, at peoples ambivalence towards their government and their neighbors and rewarding, knowing that I am playing a very small part to ensure the future viability of our electoral system. I would ask everyone to please treat our census takers with the respect and courtesy they deserve.

Posted by: ewellsian1 | May 10, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Census worker here. The manual tells us to wear good shoes as you never know when you may have to run. Also to scan beneath our car when we approach it as assailants may "charge out" and grab our ankles.

The driving thing I believe is the most serious. It is much different driving that we are doing. When you are doing door to door it is hard to remember to buckle up every time. We are often driving in unfamiliar territory and can be easily distracted looking for house numbers, etc.

I worry more dogs than the people who are mostly very nice.

Posted by: rjma1 | May 10, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

The census (or at least the person trying to reach my household) has a terrible procedure. You see, I work. Not only do I work, but I work a normal schedule during the day.

Yet the person keeps coming during weekdays when I am working and leaves a note saying to call a number that is not legible and says the "best" time to reach him is between 1-5pm. You see, I'm at work earning money to pay protection money, I mean taxes, and this person can't figure it out. The person has come by 3 times already. You'll never reach me if you keep doing it that way.

Posted by: member8 | May 10, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I don't have time at work to call the census; doing that would distact me from perusing the Washington Post and posting comments railing against incompetent government, its confiscatory tax policies, and intrusive census takers.

Posted by: jackjburke | May 10, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Anti-government Republican reps told their constituents to throw their Census forms in the garbage! Then, as those dumb Republicans realized the number of Congressional reps is based on the Census, they backtracked and began begging constituents to MAIL the Census forms.

But many forms were already in landfills, necessitating the government to spend MORE MONEY hiring Census workers to go door to door collecting the information.

At this point - it would be wise to just call it quits before more people are harmed and killed. If Republicans LOSE seats - oh well.

Posted by: angie12106 | May 10, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Anti-government Republican reps told their constituents to throw their Census forms in the garbage! Then, as those dumb Republicans realized the number of Congressional reps is based on the Census, they backtracked and began begging constituents to MAIL the Census forms.

But many forms were already in landfills, necessitating the government to spend MORE MONEY hiring Census workers to go door to door collecting the information.

At this point - it would be wise to just call it quits before more people are harmed and killed. If Republicans LOSE seats - oh well.

Posted by: angie12106 | May 10, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

"The census (or at least the person trying to reach my household) has a terrible procedure. You see, I work. Not only do I work, but I work a normal schedule during the day."

Why didn't you fill out the form and send it in?

Posted by: jackdmom | May 10, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

I have a problem with the People who are refusing to fill out their Census forms, really what is the problem it only happens every 10 years and is a source of information for people who are looking up Family Connections in the future when the Census is released to the General public. All those who refuse or are reluctant are denying those yet to come of having any hope of tracing Families. I have used the old Censuses to trace my Family so it is a useful tool.

Posted by: rlbradley | May 10, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"Why didn't you fill out the form and send it in?"

That would require an effort. People who distrust the government are usually the same people who refuse to take part in it.

Posted by: Homr_Zodyssey | May 10, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I never received it. If I did, I would have responded with the number of people in the household and nothing else.

Posted by: member8 | May 10, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Most people(s) who don't fill out the census form have something to hide.

Posted by: Guy1158 | May 10, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Not necesarily; many are just ignorant so everything scares them. Especially those emails that go around and around again, spreading old rumors and lies long after they've been debunked.

The Reds and other anti-government groups use that fear of "the unknown" to their advantage.


Just as Rahm Emanuel is said to have advised "never let a crisis go to waste", Republican leaders have been saying "never let a fear go unexploited" for the last decade.

Posted by: lquarton | May 11, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't have anything to hide. When Obama shows the American people his documents, the same ones that EVERY one of us have to show when getting a job, I will fill out the census form.

What is Obama hiding that he won't even show his kindergarten documents or his documents when he was a public employee as a senator that we paid for? What is he hiding. Enough of his do as I say, not as I do BS.

Show your documents and we'll gladly fill out the census. And don't give us that BS that it's for our own good. We all know you will be using every single piece of information you can against us, Mr. Obummer.

Posted by: VotersOfNY | May 14, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"When Obama shows the American people his documents, the same ones that EVERY one of us have to show when getting a job, I will fill out the census form.

What is Obama hiding that he won't even show his kindergarten documents"

I can honestly say that I have *never* been asked to show my "kindergarten documents" in order to obtain employment....lol

Posted by: Merianya | May 14, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

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