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Violent Crime Rise and Record Number of Aggravated Assaults Dim Flagler’s Overall Drop

| April 30, 2012

He's not much help.

In a report certain to be parsed for any profitable interpretations by the five candidates running for Flagler County Sheriff and the two-term incumbent they’re challenging, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement today released the annual crime tallies for Florida’s counties and cities and touted yet another overall decline in the state’s crime rate–to its lowest level since FDLE began keeping the statistics in 1971.

The numbers diverge for Florida and Flagler, however: while violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault) were down 3.7 percent in the state, they were up in every single one of those categories in Flagler County, including a staggering 44 percent increase in aggravated assaults, to a record 254. The closest the county had ever come to that number was 243 in 2005, near the height of the county’s economic boom. Reported rapes increased from 16 to 19 (the number is notoriously lower than it actually is, as victims tend to under-report rapes), robberies from 36 to 37, and murder from none in 2010 to one in 2011–actually, a murder-suicide last March, when David Sharp, 52, took a gun to his wife, Terry, 54, then turned it on himself in their Barkwood Lane home in Palm Coast. (See the detailed chart below.)

Relatively speaking, Flagler County remains one of the safer counties in the state, with an overall crime rate of 2,469 crimes per 100,000 population. Put more simply, the chance of your being the victim of a crime in any given year is just under 2.5 percent. In the rest of the state, it’s 4 percent.

A spokeswoman for Sheriff Don Fleming said he was not available today.

The numbers in Flagler’s violent crimes are skewed upward not because of crimes happening in jurisdictions primarily covered by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, but because of crime in Bunnell, where the crime rate increased 38 percent between 1020 and 2011. Although fewer than 3 percent of the county’s population lives in Bunnell, the small city accounted for 51 of the county’s aggravated assaults, or 20 percent of those crimes. Flagler Beach, in comparison, had just 16 aggravated assaults, or 6 percent of the total. Bunnell also accounted for four of the county’s 19 recorded rapes, or 21 percent, and 22 percent of its robberies.

Bunnell just got itself a new police chief. Jeff Hoffman, a mmember of the Daytona Beach Police Department for 20 years, started in Bunnell on Saturday with high hopes by the city commission that the department, on a roller-coaster of internal investigations and scandals for a decade, will be under a steadier hand.

Flagler Beach saw a 21.5 percent overall decline in its crime rate. Palm Coast isn’t broken out individually, because the city contracts with the sheriff to provide law enforcement. But the overwhelming majority of crimes recorded on the sheriff’s logs, outside of Bunnell and Flagler Beach, take place in Palm Coast.


The overall crime rate in Flagler County, however, declined 4.2 percent, repeating last year’s decline by the same proportion, thanks to significant drops in non-violent crimes: burglaries, larcenies and auto theft. Burglaries fell 9.2 percent, helped in part perhaps by the diminishing inventory of foreclosed and unoccupied homes which plagued the county after the housing crash; larcenies, such as break-ins in cars or garages (more often than not left unlocked, judging from Flagler’s police reports) fell 6.7 percent. And auto thefts fell 27.9 percent (from 104 in 2010 to 75 last year).

Flagler’s overall crime drop exceeds the state’s, which was a mere 0.8 percent. Still, the drop added to a multi-year trend, surprising criminologists who have been at a loss to explain a drop in crime concurrent with a deep recession.

“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.

Statewide, 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 increased 0.4 percent. Burglary and larceny each rose 0.7 percent. The number of motor vehicle thefts decreased by 4.4 percent, perhaps helped by the fact that the demand for luxury cars and gadget-leaden SUVs is not what it once was, while more people are willing to hold on to their cars longer rather than trade them in for newer models, which attract thieves.

Florida registered 985 murders in 2011, two less than in 2010. The overwhelming majority of those murders (691 of them) had a firearm as the murder weapon. And Florida’s murder rate of 5.5 per 100,000 population, along with its steeper-than-average violent crime rate, is keeping the Sunshine State among the most violent states in the union.

Steve Casey, executive director of the Florida Sheriffs Association, and Florida Police Chief’s Association First Vice President and Tallahassee Police Department Chief Dennis Jones were quick to credit “the hard work being done by law enforcement officers around the state in cooperation with the citizens they serve” (in Jones’s words), but falling crime has been a national trend.

Flagler County Crime and Crime Rates, 2000-2012

YearPop.Total Crime IndexIndex % Change from Previous YearMur-
der
RapeRob-
bery
Aggra-
vated
Asslt
Bur-
glary
Lar-
ceny
Vehicle TheftCrime
Rate
per
100,000
% Cleared
201297,2202,200-7.418382104361,433742,262.929.3
201196,2412,376-4.2119372545051,485752,468.829.3
201094,9842,480-4.2016361775561,5911042,611.024.2
200994,9772,588+5.3322482235921,5901102,724.926.1
200895,5882,458-9.8014562035401,5101352,571.522.9
200793,6442,724+18.6418542126091,6601672,908.921.6
200689,1512,296+15.7412371805021,3911702,575.421.2
200578,6931,984+21.8112452433951,1531352,521.226.5
200469,7591,629+5.1012191673479821022,335.230.2
200361,6171,550+14.22829169353906832,515.526.1
200256,8611,357-2.221319165365722712,386.535.4
200153,1371,388-0.411927130348786772,612.127.7
200049,9081,394+18.941222112363806752,793.126.8
Source: Unified Crime Report, FBI and FDLE
(*)January-June 2012 only. The numbers in parenthesis are the totals for last year's first six months.
(**)Census Bureau's 2011 estimate.


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13 Responses for “Violent Crime Rise and Record Number of Aggravated Assaults Dim Flagler’s Overall Drop”

  1. Liana G says:

    …”But the overwhelming majority of crimes recorded on the sheriff’s logs, outside of Bunnell and Flagler Beach, take place in Palm Coast.”….

    I don’t see as much of the C.O.P patrol cars as much as I used to, if at all. Could this be the reason? The ‘Broken Window Theory’ does work.

  2. Pinky says:

    I wouldn’t even look at these statistics because Fleming always makes sure his supervisors are curtailing reports to how they want them to look. Many times I have seen officers reports come back from a supervisor and told to change it because it needed to be catorigized as something else. Again, Corruption at its Finest.

    • Cup Half Full says:

      Pinky you need to attend the SO Citzens Academy and you would understand better the processes in play. Too call someone corrupt is casting dispersions against everyone of the men and women who work their butt’s off each and every day for the citizens of Flagler County. In doing theirs jobs the SO has supervisors at 3-4 levels that review the deputies reports to ensure all the elements are included. Can the occassional mistake occur, probaly, but at the end of the day the supervisor of records (civilian) is considered the last word in classifying reports(subject matter expert with Uniform Crime Reports UCR). And while we are talking reports, let me mention that the deputies respond to in ex cess of 100K calls for service each year. That is approximately 140 road deputies to respond to all . Also, their chain of command ensures that each deputy is doing the right thing. Again, if you take the time to get to know your law enforcement community in Flagler by attending a Citizen Academy, I think you would be impressed! I’m just saying.

    • dontbesoparanoid says:

      And you’ve come to this conclusion how?

  3. Biker says:

    If you dont take a report and merely make the issue at hand an incident report, does it count towards the crime stats. For instance if a burglary is made a suspicious incident rather than a burgalry does it count as a burglary? Im curious how much of an increase in suspicious incident reports have occured during the same time period as the report. Sound familiar? Reclassification is an effective way to reduce crime stats.

    • dontbesoparanoid says:

      An incident report IS a report. Pretty difficult to turn a “burglary” into a “suspicious incident”. FCSO Citizens Academy, numerous Neighborhood Watch groups, Crime Prevention, Why would there be any of these offered to the public by the Sheriff’s Office if there was an attempt to conceal the types of crime occurring here? Listen to WNZF every morning, FCSO PIO Deb Johnson goes over the crimes that occurred the previous day. Some are also posted on FCSO ‘s website or you can go to Crimereports.com you’ll be surprised.

  4. B. Claire says:

    Just an ironic observation….

    advertiser on this page when I read ‘crime’ article’….

    a big ole gun photo

    selling:

    “You’re About To Learn Concealed Carry Secrets That Most Americans Will Never Know…” With your FREE subscription to the Concealed Carry Report,…

    [ a chicken ‘n egg scenerio?…

    uh oh…crime…better buy a gun

    …but wait, the NRA to the rescue making it possible to have enough guns in circulation to arm every man, woman & child in our country. Even though we all know how much they hate all that gun manufacturers’ membership ‘dues’ $…then in turn, all those gun owners’ ‘dues’ $. Not their fault….those lobbyists, Governors, politicians don’t come cheap you know ]

  5. tulip says:

    @LEANA–Palm Coast has the largest population in Flagler County– that’s why there would be a higher number of crimes in PC. The more “undesirables” that move here, the higher the crime rate can get.

  6. "My Daily Rant" says:

    No suprise Bunnell a hot bed of crime.Im just takeing a guess here,maybe if the sheriffs dept. stopped hiding in bushes or in parking lots waiting for a speeder or any traffic violation they might be where there is real crime.Ever drive by the tennis club or publix on P.C.P.or even the dunkin donuts on old kings road where they named the road after officer Celico, who I knew to be a good officer,You will never see any crime there.Lets focus less on traffic and more on violent crime.

  7. PalmCoast says:

    Time for change!!….I vote Ray Stevens for Flagler County Sheriff!

  8. lul says:

    We live in a society where you have a 4% chance every year to be involved in a crime. Do you really think this is a great country to live in? ya not so much

  9. Bunnell boy says:

    The problem with rising crime in bunnell is not the sheriffs fault. The fault lies with the bunnell police dept. They are the ones more concerned with traffic stops than worried about someone getting broke into and getting the snot kicked out of them.Every time i see them stopping someone i look to make sure it is not one of our canine friends being checked to make sure they have their dog license… I think at last bunnell has a real police chief, something that the city has not had in a while.

  10. PJ says:

    Bunnell cops make more arrest because they make more stops than other agencies. The crime rate is up in Palm Coast because of the rental housing and not enough police patrols. The math speaks for it’self.

    Bunnell is not the drag down city it’s really Palm coast too.

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