Crime Stats Down to 35-Year Low

By: Victoria Langley and Rex Ogburn
By: Victoria Langley and Rex Ogburn

New crime statistics show your family is a little safer in Florida today than in years past. Florida’s crime rate has dropped to its lowest level in 35 years. Violent crime is actually up in some areas, and that’s a big problem.

Florida’s crime rate has dropped again, by nearly four percent in 2005 over the previous year. That breaks down to 12,400 fewer hard-core crimes like murder, rape and robbery.

Jeb Bush was pleased to deliver the good news.

“It is fantastic that we’ve seen a reduction in overall crime, a reduction in crime rates.”

The governor credits tougher sentencing laws like 10-20-Life for keeping the bad guys behind bars longer. But not all the news is good. The rate of violent crime is actually up in some cities, compared to other cities around the country.

Murder rates in Jacksonville and some Central Florida counties increased. Attorney General Charlie Crist blames much of the problem on habitual offenders.

“I think it’s fairly easy. I think what you need to do is straight forward. People who are out and are violating probation need to be locked up.”

But Crist’s push to get tougher on repeat offenders has gotten bogged down in the legislature for the last two years because of the price tag, and Jeb Bush says even though he’s on board with tough sentencing laws, cost is always a concern.

“All of this has to be done in the context of making sure that we have the resources to build a big enough prison system.”

Florida’s prisons already house nearly 85,000 inmates, and on the local level, Bay County's crime rate dropped 12.3 percent.

There was a slight drop in violent crimes, with the number of murders in Bay County dropping to 4 from 11 and 93 rape victims, down from 97.

The number of robberies only dropped by one number, but aggravated assaults went from 824 in 2004 to 807 this year.

The biggest changes locally came from burglary, larceny and car theft. Burglary totals went from 1,632 down to 1,373.

Also, the larceny rate dropped significantly from just under 6,000, down to about 5,000. And car theft numbers were also lowered from 517 to 380.

For your local crime stats, check out:

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