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Crime in Flagler County Declines Again, Adding Another Wrinkle to Sheriff’s Race

| November 1, 2012

Sheriff Don Fleming has touted the decrease in Flagler County's crime rate over the past three years, while Jim Manfre, his opponent in the Nov. 6 election and a former sheriff, has questioned the claim. Flagler's fluctuating crime rate, above, reflects the Manfre years, in blue, and the Fleming years in red. Note: the (© FlaglerLive)

Sheriff Don Fleming has touted the decrease in Flagler County’s crime rate over the past three years, while Jim Manfre, his opponent in the Nov. 6 election and a former sheriff, has questioned the claim. Flagler’s fluctuating crime rate, above, reflects the Manfre years, in blue, and the Fleming years in red. *Note: the annualized index for 2012 should read 2210, not 2,260.
(© FlaglerLive)

The crime rate in Flagler County declined 6.2 percent in the first six months of 2012, compared with the same period last year, and is on pace to decline 8 percent this year. In Florida, the crime rate declined 3.8 percent during the period. The decline locally is driven by drops in vehicle thefts, burglaries and robberies. But violent crime remains a problem: ten rapes were reported in the first six months of the year. Last year, 19 rapes were reported all year.

The decline in crime, annualized for 2012, either compared to the first six months of 2011 or annualized over 12 months, would amount to the third drop in the crime rate in the last three years. While the crime drop tracks with state-wide results–and indeed with a continuing drop in crime nationwide–Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming was quick to seize on the numbers as vindication of his tenure. Fleming is in a re-election race with Jim Manfre, to be decided Nov. 6. Fleming’s race was recently clouded by the Florida Ethics Commission’s finding that the sheriff had violated the state’s ethics rules by accepting expensive gifts and not reporting them. Today’s news may help remove some of that cloud.

“I am proud of the continued decrease in major crimes,” Fleming said in a release. “I have worked hard to assure that this agency has the tools it needs to protect our community.”

Manfre, a former sheriff (he served between 2001 and 2004) has said–with some justification–that the crime rate during his tenure was lower than it’s been during Fleming’s. The crime index for the first six months of 2012 is the lowest it’s been during Fleming’s eight years. But the average, annualized 2,595 crime index over Fleming’s eight years is higher than the average 2,462 recorded during Manfre’s years.

“The short-term drop in crime does not mask the dramatic increase in crime over Fleming’s eight years in office,” Manfre said. “Secondly, it’s very clear from walking through so many residents’ doors, that there’s a concerted effort to under-report crime in neighborhood after neighborhood. Residents complain that they can’t get police reports written for even the most basic crimes, like thefts and burglaries.” Fleming has repeatedly disputed the charge.

Fleming was sheriff during the county’s steepest growth years, which intensified crime: the county’s population increased from 70,000 to 97,000 during his tenure, a 39 percent increase. Manfre says growth exploded during his tenure, too, when the county’s population increased from 50,000 to 70,000, a 40 percent increase in those four years. “As a percentage, my numbers went up higher, yet I was still able to decrease the number of burglaries,” Manfre said.

The Sheriff pointed to the creation of a Crime Suppression Team, which identifies crime trends and maps out crime prevention strategies that result in arrests, and his Community Policing Unit, as successes in recent policing.

“Our Neighborhood Watch program is thriving and growing,” Fleming said. “Our Victim Advocates are getting abuse victims the information they need to remove themselves from their situations. Our residents are engaged with this agency’s efforts to fight crime. The benefit of that cooperation is showing results.”

The sheriff’s words dovetailed with those of Gov. Rick Scott, who announced the crime figures with Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey today. Scott’s approval ratings remain low as he enters the second half of his first term, making positive news, especially on issues central to Floridians’ sense of safety, key to his re-election chances. “The great news is we are winning the fight against crime,” Scott said. “No doubt, it’s because of the courage of our brave men and women of law enforcement that families can feel safe in our communities. These heroes put themselves in harm’s way every single day, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for making our communities safe.”

In the violent crime category, Flagler County’s one recorded murder was that of Dana Mulhall, the Flagler Beach resident shot by his neighbor, then-66-year-old Paul Miller, as the two men were arguing over Miller’s barking dogs in March. Miller, who is out on $300,000 bail, is charged with second-degree murder. The killing of Stefanie Merrill by her husband, William, on Covington lane in february, was not recorded as a murder. Merill was charged with manslaughter, and was convicted to 25 years in prison earlier this week. Flagler County had one murder all of 2011 (a murder-suicide on Barkwood Lane in March that year).


Flagler County’s three reported rapes for the first half of the year are well below the 10 rapes reported in the first six months last year. In the rape category, reported crimes are usually lower than the actual number of such crimes, as victims can be reluctant to take their case to police. But that’s the case every year, in all jurisdictions, so relative to last year, Flagler’s figure is unquestionably a vast improvement. Robberies barely fell, from 16 to 15. But aggravated assaults fell more sharply, would be up over last year’s total of 254. So far this year, 132 aggravated batteries have been reported, on track to exceed last year’s total by 10.

Burglaries and larcenies are slightly below last year’s totals, as are vehicle thefts.

The crime report focuses on violent and some non-violent crime that result in the victimization of individuals, but does not include drug offenses such as trafficking or possession or drunk driving, though about a fifth of jail populations are made up of drug offenders. Nor does the report include crimes as fraud or assaults below the aggravated level. But the sheriff is reporting a 17.3 percent drop in domestic violence, more than three times the statewide drop, and a 46.6 percent drop in drug-related arrests in the first six months of 2012.

“Our Narcotics Enforcement Team has worked tirelessly to fight prescription drug abuse throughout the county,” Fleming said. “We multiplied our manpower through our partnership with the FDLE. ‘Operation Pain Management‘ culminated in July with a significant amount of arrests in a three-county area that focused on high end suppliers and the street side. These efforts have impacted our community – it is a positive impact.”

In the first six months of 2012, the sheriff’s office also recovered nearly 25 percent of the value of reported stolen property. The federally reported statistics show $1,073,005 worth of property was reported stolen and $263,919 was recovered.

The complete 2012 Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report, including county-by-county breakdowns, can be found here. FDLE began tracking crime statistics in 1971.

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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28 Responses for “Crime in Flagler County Declines Again, Adding Another Wrinkle to Sheriff’s Race”

  1. Geezer Butler says:

    Paul Miller is out on bail. I hope that he doesn’t kill another innocent human-being while he awaits trial.
    That man is unbalanced and dangerous.

    Bail was set way too low.

    • Al Ruiz says:

      When I listen to Manfre, I wonder where he received his law enforcement training from. He wants his deputies to be on foot so they can be visible to the community. Doesn’t he yet understand the functions of the police who are the ones who should be on foot patrols? The Sheriff’s Department main function is to back up the local city police departments by being deputies, not police. Deputies need patrol cars because they need to cover a larger area. Imagine that a deputy is on foot (according to Manfre) in the Palm Coast Parkway area and has to respond to an emergency in Bunnell with other deputies, how long do you think it would take him to get there on foot. How effective do you think his (Manfre’s) department would be? Even an eight year old would realize that Manfre’s formula cannot possibly work. Manfre needs to go back to basic law enforcement training to learn the responsibilities of the different departments before he begins to think about law enforcement management.

  2. Eileen Miller says:

    So how come everyday I read something happening in Flagler County???

    • Ray Thorne says:

      Read the chart.

    • fed up says:

      Eileen, it’s easy… if the deputy doesn’t take a report… then the crime didn’t happen!!! and the other game is larcenies become lost property burglaries become trespass… etc talk to crime victims and they’ll tell you the deputy never took a report!!! that’s how you fudge the numbers!!! then let’s talk about car stops and illegal searches… ask every teenage driver about that!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Its sad when they make the victim out to be the one in the wrong. I know they do not take reports!! from personal experience. I won’t even call them anymore. We have neighborhood watch but they do not back us up! empty houses that are constantly being broken into, teenagers that run rampant causing problems. Out neighborhood stinks and they could care less. I have no faith in the police in Flagler county . and boy oh boy, if you try to call and get answers you get such a run around. I am still waiting on a return phone call from a year ago. Fleming does not get my vote. Its time for him to move on. He has become way too comfortable in his job and status. And his people are only following his lead.

      • Ed says:

        Deputies that respond to take reports don’t care about crime stats. They are just out there doing the job. Give me a break. Lost properties and trespasses = a report so what are they trying to get out of? iIlegal searches? Give me a break it’s not happening. This isn’t communist Russia.

    • Mr. Johnson says:

      The article is stating that crime is down, No where does it say that Flagler county has become some fantasy land where no crime occurs. Just because crime is down does not mean that Fleming is doing a good job. It means that he has some men and women working for him that take pride in their job and actually care about what’s going on. They deserve the real credit, not the guy with no ethics and who’s breaking the rules.

  3. Magnolia says:

    I’m so tired of the bickering between these two, I am going to vote for Janet McDonald, write in candidate. I don’t even care what party she is. She can’t be any worse than these two are.

  4. Ray Thorne says:

    Bickering? I actually like how Fleming credits the community for also taking part in the reduction.

  5. rocket says:

    Way to go Sheriff Fleming!!!

    Numbers don’t lie and you can see from the ah-hummmmm Manfre years his crime level.

    Sheriff Fleming shows a LOWER crime rate because the sheriff has beefed up his road patrols and made the sheriff’s department even more visible than when Manfre was in office.

    A bickering tongue doesn’t make a good sheriff, good judgement does and that’s why we need to KEEP sheriff Fleming in office.

    • George O. Price,Ret'd Chief says:

      The only time I see a Deputy in our neighborhood is when there is a crime committed or a disturbance (civil) in the sub-division. It is rare that we even see a COP vehicle.. I live in the woodlands. We see the City Code enforcement people weekly. Maybe they should be trained as neighborhood watch people.GOP

      • George O. Price,Ret'd Chief says:

        To add to my previous post, I don’t think that some of the people are aware of the fact that the Sheriffs Department is not like a City Police Department.
        . A City Department has a routine patrol division and that is part of their job to patrol. They also have a Traffic Division who patrols the roadways and handles routine traffic problems. The Sheriffs Department is basically a response department and a provider of a confinement facility. That is why we need a City Police Department who’s job is to provide patrol and services to its residents and they become part of the City..
        The drawback to this is the “costs” to provide such a department.

  6. Reinhold Schlieper says:

    I suspect strongly that the crime rate has a much higher correlation to the condition of the economy than to the person occupying the sheriff’s department. I would think that the choice of sheriff should be informed by the character of the person. Do we know anything about Manfre’s?

  7. RNYPD says:

    Do any of you remember that Manfre was the guy that spent tax payer money on all those calanders and greeting cards in an effort to try andf get us to re-elect him? At least Fleming is honest about his mistakes. The County did not have to sue him costing US well over $10,000.00 more tax dollars out of OUR budget like they had to do with Manfre. The news paper had to sue him too. Hell just about every other government entity had a fight with that guy when he was in there. His entire administrative staff got run out of town. He told the union that he would run them out then costed them more than all of the other agencies combined over his tenure to prove his words. Talk about Napolean complex!!!!! Come on people I know it was a few years ago but think about it for a minute will ya?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Francoise Pecqueur was a friend of mine and the hit-and-run accident almost a year ago in Palm Coast. How can anyone vote for Fleming? Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming, who is entangled in the case: the night of the incident, and in subsequent days, Fleming had several phone exchanges with John Fischer, the school board member and the husband of Jamesine, discussing the wreck, and subsequently, the fatality. It was Fleming who directed Fischer to Alexander. Fleming has given different accounts of his conversations with Fischer, raising questions about his judgments and involvement in the case on behalf of a friend.

    DO NOT VOTE FOR FLEMMING!

    • Geezer says:

      If the sheriff is reelected, you can surmise that he’s a reflection of the people of Palm Coast.
      That’s something to think (worry) about.

      GO MANFRE GO!

  9. Quail Hollow resident says:

    When being terrorized by my former redneck neighbors I tried repeatedly to contact Don Fleming personally. We were victimized over and over again with thousands of dollars in damages to show for it. The Barney Fife quality deputies that were sent out were for the most part the definition of impotent. That’s why I called the Sheriff directly only to be 100% ignored. He never returned even 1 phone call of numerous made. The deputies basically said it was our word against the rednecks even though the evidence was overwhelming. We asked for an investigation and have the neighbors being staked out because the crimes were being committed nightly. The deputies were worthless as was the sheriff. The only advice they could give us was to record the crimes on video as they occurred.
    Like others here, we never see deputies actively patrol our street. Only after the fact do they show up. Useless. Also, the Sheriffs ethical shortcomings at Hammock Dunes and his oh so helpful behavior to his school board friend who’s wife was involved in a fatal car vs pedestrian so called accident. I must give the Sheriff credit however, he did return SOMEONE’S phone call. Repeatedly.
    Lastly, in my opinion only, this Sheriff seems to be friendly with long time connected local Flagler residents especially those working in the Gov’t Services Building. That’s just my gut feeling and is my opinion only. I could be wrong but might be right.

    • Geezer says:

      This is all your fault!
      Stop impugning Rednecks and their lifestyle.

      If you wanted a cooperative relationship with them, you’d have invited your neighbors over for
      a toilet-seat toss in your back yard. Maybe a roadkill cookout once in a while.
      Did you ever eat fresh-killed possum?

      Invite them over today and bond over some Armadillo stew.

      GIT ‘ER DONE!

  10. gator says:

    out here on the west side, you need a cop got to county cooler, or county store, and if they are not their go over by the church, it’s nap time their, that why they never got any one coming out of the county line bar ,
    so it really don’t matter who comes in, it will never change out here it’s been the same way the last two sheriffs

  11. Ben Blakely says:

    Increased gun ownership is what is responsible for declining crime. Criminals don’t want to get shot!

    This is a simple fact …. don’t rely on the government but make yourself capable of defending your family, home and self!

    • fed up says:

      this is for RNYPD….

      “.The County did not have to sue him costing US well over $10,000.00 more tax dollars out of OUR budget”

      How conveniently you forget about FLEMING COSTING US $500,000.00 MORE TAX DOLLARS OUT OF OUR BUDGET TO SETTLE LAWSUITS OVER WRONGFUL TERMINATION …K McClinton and others…ATLEAST I GOT A CALENDAR FOR MY MONEY… IN ADDITION TO THE PECQUEUR DEATH AND COVER UP, THE ETHICS VIOLATIONS, AND SGT ROSTER NOT PAYING BACK THE MORE THAN $8000.00 HE STOLE…I COULD’VE HAD ANOTHER CALENDAR!!!! DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH ANY OF THAT??? KEEP DRINKING THE KOOL AID… U were probably one of the COPS FUDGING THE NUMBERS IN N.Y.

      • Ray Thorne says:

        I may be wrong (i dont think i am) but I think those termination processes were started under the Manfre administration and carried over into Flemings. As we know, Fleming isn’t one to fire anyone without making sure there is just cause. From what I heard at one of the forums when a question was asked about Sgt Roster, it was made clear that the incident is not yet concluded.

        I ask myself this… If we were to have a major incident or disaster, do I want a guy running the cop shop whose experience in such is slim to none or do I want a guy who has spent an entire career in that field? My vote is for the career cop.

        George O. Price, your Sheriffs Office are the Police and by all accounts I’ve read in many articles, do a great job. As far as where COP’s patrol, I imagine going to the Palm Coast substation and asking would get you an answer.

        Forgot to also add that whatever the payout i dont recall that it came out of our “taxpayers” pockets. I believe I recall it was paid through insurance.

    • Ray Thorne says:

      Maybe on a small scale. I dont think Burglars know if a homeowner is armed or not and in my opinion, if it is known and homeowner is not home it may be more enticing to commit the crime if they think they can get their hands on a firearm.

      • Geezer says:

        Most of the time these robberies are planned by low-lives observing your habits.
        AKA: “casing out the place.” Many times it’s your seedy neighbors in cahoots with,
        or the actual crooks. The seedy ones almost always are transient-type renters.

        How nice it would be to catch them in the act, with your shotgun at the ready!
        But that’s a rare case scenario.

        You have to be nuts (or ruthless) to break into homes in Florida. (with all the guns in circulation)
        And that’s why this breed of criminal is so dangerous.

  12. Reality Check says:

    Manfre could not get along with the County Council or City Council, why, because he is an egomaniac. He has a proven track record, he is looking for the easy paycheck. The way we have an elected official as a Sherriff is beyond me, they need to be brought up thru the ranks and earn the position, everybody looks good when they are campaigning.

  13. confidential says:

    Manfre had no problem with County Commission, was the other way around, same witch hunting they did to others like SOE Kimberle Weeks now they saw the righting in the wall and stopped.
    We, the people vote our constitutional officials and the FC Board of County Commissioners need to have a little more respect for the people’s choice other that undermining and micromanaging them with no valid reasons from the start.

    Manfre had no problems with the City of Palm Coast Council, stop spreading lies, Reality Check!
    The problem today is that we have too many brass/chiefs making over 75,000/year and few and under paid deputies to do the real work.
    I am glad that many common sense Republicans we, are voting for Manfre.

    • Ray Thorne says:

      Who is spreading lies? Manfre’s Facebook biography claims he has 35 years of law enforcement / crime fighting experience. Really? Id like to know where he was a sworn LEO and what departments he worked for because evidently he forgot to put it in his work history.

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