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National Politics

Florida's crime rate the lowest in 40 years

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 02:35 PM
TALLAHASSEE -

Florida's crime rate is the lowest in 40 years, Gov. Rick Scott and law enforcement leaders announced on Tuesday.

The 2010 state crime rate was 6.7 percent lower than in 2009, Scott announced at a press conference marking Tuesday's release of last year's crime statistics.

Specifically, violent crime was down 10.1 percent, while non-violent crime dropped 6 percent. Florida experienced 770,518 total crimes in 2010, down from 824,559 in 2009.

"These stats indicate Florida is on the right track," Scott said, calling law enforcement in Florida both pro-active and innovative.

While it's not possible to pinpoint one factor solely responsible for the decreased crime rate, he said, "Florida is a safe place to visit, live and work."

He added: "with six law enforcement officers killed in action during the past four months, the news of these [crime rate] drops reminds us that public safety comes from the commitment of selfless public servants."

Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Gerald Bailey compared the latest statistics to those in 1971, when Florida began tracking its crime statistics. At the time, Florida experienced 5,700 crimes per 100,000 residents. In 2010, that number was only 4,100 per 100,000.

"The decreases in 2010 are across the board -- in violent crime, and nonviolent crime," Bailey said.

By comparison, Tampa's crime rate dropped 12.4 percent last year and unincorporated Hillsborough County's dropped 16.2 percent.

In part, Tampa police credit their 61.5 percent dropoff in the past eight years to increased community involvement and more proactive policing policies.

In unincorporated Hillsborough County, much of the reduction can be attributed to efforts in recent years to focus on the small number of people who commit the most crimes, deputies said.

Hillsborough's reduction was its largest drop in four straight years of decreases.

While major crimes dropped in Tampa and unincorporated Hillsborough in 2010, the number of homicides overall in the county rose 20 percent.

The Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Plant City Police Department and Temple Terrace Police Department worked 72 homicide cases in 2010, compared with 60 in 2009.

Investigators say homicide totals fluctuate widely and there is no way to predict trends.

One man – Dontae Morris – is accused in five slayings in Hillsborough County last year.

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