‘US census takers assaulted over 400 times ‘

They have braved gunfire, dog bites and threats from people with baseball bats.

Last Updated: Jun 22, 2010, 10:01 AM IST

Washington: They have braved gunfire, dog
bites and threats from people with baseball bats.

US Census takers are just not always welcome, and have
been assaulted more than 400 times on their current count, a
US Census Bureau spokeswoman said yesterday.

In this round of the once-every-10-years tally, more than
635,000 Census takers have been going door-to-door since May 1
to try to count the 48 million US residents who did not answer
a census form they were asked to fill out and return by mail.

And let`s just say open-arms hospitality is not always
the watchword when intrepid census takers have come knocking.

In under two months, the Census Bureau has reported a
staggering 409 incidents, including about a dozen in which
gunshots were fired, bureau spokeswoman Shelly Lowe said.

Among the foot-draggers not keen to be counted, 132
pulled a weapon or threatened the census taker with one; 88
physically assaulted the census taker, and about a dozen
decided to hold pesky tally-takers against their will.

And that isn`t counting some 24 attacks with animals.

"In every census there are incidents where enumerators
are threatened by respondents in various ways, and this census
is no different; we are seeing a moderate increase in the
number of reported incidents against census takers," Lowe
said.

"This is due in part to an increase in households and a
more rigorous tracking system," she ventured.

"Employees learn that safety is of the utmost importance
from their first day on the job, when they receive intensive
training on steps they can take to protect themselves in a
variety of settings," she said, while maintaining that
"violence against Census Bureau employees is extremely rare."

The US population is currently estimated at 309 million.

PTI