TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - UPDATE 11/30/2016
Florida's crime rate looks like it will decrease year over year again, but violent crimes seem to be on the rise.
If the dip in crime rate holds, it will be a 46 year low for the state. When you hear the numbers, things sound good.
“The crime rate is lower by just over 3 percent,” says Gretl Plessinger with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The FDLE released a mid year report showing that the first six months of 2016 were safer than last year.
"It's really driven down by crimes like aggravated assault, larceny, and burglary," Plessinger continued.
But it’s not all good news. Murder is up more than 15 percent and rape increased by 2 percent.
The 561 murders accounted for in the report included the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
“That could factor into the increased murder rate,” explains Plessinger.
New Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil – who formerly served as Florida’s Department of Corrections Secretary – says the numbers are concerning.
"And that's something that we've all got to work on. We've got to sit down in each community across the state of Florida," says McNeil, "we've got to look at the demographics and people being released back into our communities, often times those circumstances fuel crimes in our communities as well. Those persons don't have opportunities."
McNeil’s new job means he inherits the county with highest crime rate in the state for two years running according to FDLE. It’s based on crimes reporter per 100,000 people.
If the dip crime rates hold, it'll be a 46 year low for the state.
Crime continues to fall across Florida according to the 2016 Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report. The report shows Florida’s crime volume dropped 3.4 percent compared to the first six months of 2015.
Governor Rick Scott said, “Florida’s steadily decreasing crime rate is a true testament to the hard work and commitment of our brave law enforcement officers. As the crime rate continues to decrease, it is clear that our shared goal of creating safe neighborhoods is working. While this is great news, there is still work to be done and we must continue to focus on reducing crime and making Florida the safest place to raise a family.”
Attorney General Pam Bondi said, “Thanks to the dedicated service of our law enforcement officers across the state, Florida’s overall crime rate is continuing to decline. While we continue to heal from the effects of the Pulse night club tragedy, we should recognize the bravery and professionalism of the first responders from all over the state who came together to assist the people of Orlando. I am immensely grateful for those who were working on the ground and all of the brave men and women across the state who risk their lives every day to ensure our communities are safe.”
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater said, “These figures show that continued progress is being made to drive down Florida’s crime rate, which is already at a 45-year low. While there’s more work to be done, well-deserved credit for these improvements is owed to all of Florida’s dedicated law enforcement officials who work tirelessly to keep our friends, neighbors, and children safe.”
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said, “The thin blue line, the men and women in uniform, protect us from harm and are often the only thing standing between good and evil. I thank Florida’s law enforcement officers who selflessly and courageously pursue their mission to keep Florida safe.”
The crimes of robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and larceny were all down in this report while murder, rape and motor vehicle theft all increased. Murder figures included the 49 people killed in the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016.
Law enforcement officers made 380,515 arrests from January through June 2016. Statewide, four law enforcement officers have been killed in 2016, three in motor vehicle crashes and one who was struck by a vehicle while on-duty. One correctional officer died after collapsing during a training exercise.
Overall, domestic violence fell 4.6 percent. Cohabitants continue to be the largest group of victims of domestic violence related offenses.
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen said, “This report highlights the commitment of Florida’s law enforcement community and our first responders who don’t hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow citizens.”
Florida Sheriffs Association President and Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings said, “The results of the Semi-Annual 2016 Annual Crime Report are testimony to the dedication and hard work of deputy sheriffs and law enforcement officers across the state. This report also demonstrates the need to stay vigilant and properly train and equip law enforcement so that we can be most effective.”
Florida Police Chiefs Association President and Coconut Creek Police Chief Butch Arenal said, “Florida's police chiefs are glad to see the overall crime numbers continue to decline, but there is still much work to be done protecting our citizens. These numbers tell us that we must be vigilant and that our police officers are critical to the safety of our communities.”
The Semi-Annual UCR calculates crime volume, the number of index crimes known to law enforcement. The report, including county-by-county breakdowns, can be found on FDLE’s website at http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/cms/FSAC/UCR-Reports.aspx
FDLE began tracking crime statistics in 1971.