Florida has lowest crime rate in 41 years

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey joined local and state criminal justice officials today to announce the 2011 Annual Uniform Crime Report. The report shows Florida’s crime rate dropped 0.8 percent compared to 2010.

In the past few years the Florida has passed legislation that allows citizens to defend themselves under the “Stand Your Ground” laws. Floridians may carry concealed weapons and the use of a firearm in the conduct of a crime carries stiff penalties.

“While it is good news that Florida’s crime rate is at a 41-year low, we must continue to remember that each crime represents a victim whose rights must be protected,” said Governor Rick Scott. “On behalf of all Floridians and visitors to our state, I applaud the dedication and hard work of our law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to make our state safer and our communities more secure.”

The total number of crimes dropped 0.1 percent last year. The number of violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault) was down by 3.7 percent.

“Florida’s crime rate is the lowest it has been in 41 years,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “We are blessed to live in a state with such dedicated law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and we must always remember the great sacrifices they make for our safety.”

“Overall, the 2011 Uniform Crime Report is good news,” said Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “Since FDLE began tracking crime statistics in 1971, citizens are safer today than any time in the last four decades.”

The report showed a 0.2 percent decrease in the number of murders, a 0.1 percent decrease in forcible sex offenses, a 1.8 percent decrease in robberies and a 5 percent drop in aggravated assault.

Non-violent crime (burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft) increased 0.4 percent. Burglary and larceny each rose 0.7 percent. The number of motor vehicle thefts decreased by 4.4 percent.

“Florida’s Sheriffs and Deputies are willing to give their lives to protect Florida, and we are grateful for their sacrifice and for another year of reduced crime,” said Steve Casey, executive director of the Florida Sheriffs Association. “The 2011 Uniform Crime Report demonstrates our collaborative work is paying off and that we are maintaining our quality of life.”

“The continued decline in Florida’s overall crime rate is a positive reflection of the hard work being done by law enforcement officers around the state in cooperation with the citizens they serve,” said Florida Police Chief’s Association First Vice President and Tallahassee Police Department Chief Dennis Jones. “Without the support of our community partners, our efforts to reduce and prevent crime would not be possible.”

Domestic violence offenses continued to decline in 2011, showing a 1.5 percent drop from 2010 numbers. Cohabitants continue to be the largest group of victims in this category, with spouses remaining the second largest group.

“We appreciate the hard work and partnerships with law enforcement to keep domestic violence survivors and their children safe and hold perpetrators accountable,” said Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence President and CEO Tiffany Carr. “While we are certainly pleased to see that overall domestic violence crimes continued to decline slightly in 2011, we are committed to work with our law enforcement partners to address the significant increase in stalking.”

Violent crimes committed by firearms continued to drop from 25,184 in 2010 to 24,737 in 2011. The number of justifiable homicides increased in 2011. Seventy felons were killed by police officers, compared to 56 in 2010. The number of felons killed by private citizens increased to 48, compared to 40 in 2010.

The report also contains information on officers killed feloniously. Seven law enforcement officers and one correctional officer died from criminal causes while on duty during 2011. In addition, three law enforcement officers died accidently during the course of duty.

The complete 2011 Annual Uniform Crime Report, including county-by-county breakdowns, can be found on FDLE’s website at www.fdle.state.fl.us/fsac/ucr/.