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Fleming Farewell: Flagler Crime Rate Falls to Lowest Level in 12 Years in Ex-Sheriff’s Last

| May 16, 2013

Note: domestic crimes, which have consistently represented about a quarter of overall crimes, are included in the red bar. Click on the chart for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Note: domestic crimes, which have consistently represented about a quarter of overall crimes, are included in the red bar. Click on the chart for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

He lost the election to Jim Manfre in November, but former sheriff Don Fleming left Flagler’s crime rate in better shape than he found it–or rather, almost where he’d found it–when he took over after Manfre’s first stint as sheriff eight years ago: In 2012, the rate fell to its lowest level in the 12 years of data available of the FBI’s Unified Crime Reports. Last year’s numbers, released this afternoon, show Flagler’s overall crime rate at 2,263 per 100,000, an 8 percent decline from the previous year.

But it’s just as true that Fleming’s tenure saw crime increasing in four of his eight years, to a high of 2,909 per 100,000 in 2007, at the height of the housing boom. During Manfre’s first tenure, from 2001 to 2004, crime fell in three of his four years, ending at 2,335 per 100,000 in his last year, just 3 percent higher than Fleming’s rate in his last year.

Either way, the crime rate may have much less to do with individual sheriffs’ strategies and more to do with state and national trends: Overall crime has been on a steady decline since the second half of the 1990s. Florida’s crime rate in 2012 was the lowest in 42 years.

But in Florida, murders were up over 2011, with 1,009 murders recorded (up from 985), and forcible sex offenses were up almost 3 percent (10,141 cases). The overall violent crime rate in the state was down 4.3 percent, driven down by declines in robberies and aggravated assaults. The violent crime rate is less than half where it stood in 1989.

What he described as a “dramatic” drop in crime in Flagler, especially in certain categories, gave Manfre pause. “I am skeptical of the numbers,” the sheriff said in an interview Thursday evening. “I’m just not sure if this is a reflection of the crime or if people got frustrated and stopped reporting crime.” Manfre said that the more “pro-active” policing he instituted at the beginning of his tenure, with a focus on community-oriented policing, actually drive crime reporting up for the first three months, then down the fourth.

“When you are proactive, the public becomes more confident in reporting complaints, so the crime rate is not always a reflection of what’s going on year to year, you have to look at it over several years,” Manfre said.

The Flagler crime figures reflect numbers submitted by all police agencies with jurisdiction in the county: the sheriff’s office, the Flagler Beach Police Department, the Bunnell Police Department, the state Division of Environmental Protection’s law enforcement arm, the Florida Highway Patrol’s Flagler arm, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which also has a law enforcement component. But the county’s three main police agencies aside, other police agencies’ numbers were low, with the game commission and FHP combining for a total of 171 arrests out of a total of 3,116 arrests.

The sheriff’s office conducted the most arrests: 2,262. The Bunnell Police Department had, stunningly, 511 arrests, or 16 percent of the total, even though its jurisdiction controls a population that represents just 3 percent of the county. Bunnell has an arrest rate of 19,032 per 100,000 population, compared with Flagler Beach’s rate of 3,700, and the county’s overall rate of 2,512.

In Flagler, crime declined in every major category but one: robberies were up by one over last year, to 38. Keep in mind: those are reported crimes. In many instances, from robberies to sex assaults to larcenies, people do not report the crimes. But the reported numbers do reflect an overall trend.

Violent crime was significantly down in Flagler, with rapes declining from 19 to 8 and aggravated assaults declining 17 percent (from 254 to 210). One murder was reported in 2010: that’s Paul Miller’s killing of Dana Mulhall in Flagler Beach last spring, when the two next-door-neighbors argued over Miller’s barking dogs. Miller goes on trial on a second-degree murder charge Monday.


Burglaries and larcenies have been a persistent problem in Flagler County, swelling crime numbers every year. Larcenies were again the leading crime last year, with 1,433 reported (almost four a day), a very small decline from the 1,485 reported the previous year. Motor vehicle thefts declined by one, to 74. Burglaries declined by 14 percent, from 505 to 436.

About a quarter of the overall crime figures are the result of domestic issues. In 2012, of the 2,200 crimes reported, 551 were domestic matters, including 106 aggravated assaults. That number typically doubles domestic assaults overall, skewing the picture of that violent crime. There were also 400 “simple assaults” in domestic cases. Two rapes, eight cases of forcible fondling, 31 cases of threats or intimidation and three cases of stalking or aggravated stalking were also recorded.

While overall domestic crimes have declined in line with crime in general, domestic aggravated assaults have not. To the contrary. Those have risen dramatically, especially in the last two years, with 122 in 2011 and 106 in 2012, well above the annual average of 68 over the previous 10 years.

Flagler County Crime and Crime Rates, 2000-2015

Year (Sheriff)Pop.Total Crime IndexIndex % Change
from Previous Year
Mur-
der
RapeRob-
bery
Aggra-
vated
Asslt
Bur-
glary
Lar-
ceny
Vehicle TheftCrime
Rate
per
100,000
% Cleared
2015 (Manfre)101,413*2,0901.7%223262313751,3241092,060.925.3%
2014 (Manfre)99,1212,055-6.2014322043301,399762073.230.3
2013 (Manfre)97,4832,190-0.5322572064761,343832238.327.7
2012 (Fleming)97,2202,200-7.418382104361,433742,262.929.3
2011 (Fleming)96,2412,376-4.2119372545051,485752,468.829.3
2010 (Fleming)94,9842,480-4.2016361775561,5911042,611.024.2
2009 (Fleming)94,9772,588+5.3322482235921,5901102,724.926.1
2008 (Fleming)95,5882,458-9.8014562035401,5101352,571.522.9
2007 (Fleming)93,6442,724+18.6418542126091,6601672,908.921.6
2006 (Fleming)89,1512,296+15.7412371805021,3911702,575.421.2
2005 (Fleming)78,6931,984+21.8112452433951,1531352,521.226.5
2004 (Manfre)69,7591,629+5.1012191673479821022,335.230.2
2003 (Manfre)61,6171,550+14.22829169353906832,515.526.1
2002 (Manfre)56,8611,357-2.221319165365722712,386.535.4
2001 (Manfre)53,1371,388-0.411927130348786772,612.127.7
2000 (McCarthy)49,9081,394+18.941222112363806752,793.126.8
Source: Unified Crime Report, FBI and FDLE
Note: The crime figures listed in the table represent the incidence of reported of crime in the entire county, including Bunnell and Flagler Beach, not just crime reported to or by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office. Note, too, that reported crime is always lower than actual crime levels, as all crimes are not reported.
(*)The population figure is based on the total provided by FDLE, which differs from that of the U.S. Census Bureau. The latter places the county's total population at 105,392.

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12 Responses for “Fleming Farewell: Flagler Crime Rate Falls to Lowest Level in 12 Years in Ex-Sheriff’s Last”

  1. Ayn Rand's Spleen says:

    Crime stats are meaningless when you can just reclassify crimes or choose not to charge people.

  2. NortonSmitty says:

    Anybody stop to think maybe there ain’t shit here worth stealing anymore?

  3. Quail Hollow resident says:

    While our family were repeated victims of redneck generated crimes, Don Fleming was missing in action. This good ole boy IGNORED my repeated calls for help. He ignored personal pleas to meet with me. He NEVER called back once. I can only guess he was related to my vermin neighbors or someone else in his do nothing so called administration. Good riddance. PS, have a good time at the Hammock with your bogus privileges. It sickens me to see an article spinning this guy in a good light,

  4. Ron Hubbard says:

    You can THANK every gun owner for these falling crime rates.

    Criminals, burglers, robbers, muggers and agents don’t want to mess with anyone who can defend themselves.

  5. Chris says:

    What happened to the other 75% that weren’t reported?

    Source: Unknown people who don’t report crime.

  6. Lt Dan says:

    More Law-Biding citizens with guns means LOWER crime rate. Someone should tell Rahm Emanuelle in Chicago. And we don’t need a Nazi SS squad of police like Bloomberg in New York.

  7. Think About it says:

    Sure looks like Fleming knew what he was doing… :-)

  8. April says:

    I think Manfre should give credit where credit is due.

  9. E. C. H. says:

    CRIME STATS MEAN NOTHING IF LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT LOOKS THE OTHER WAY while Palm Coast code enforcement practices corruption and violates your civil rights.

    A public servant lying or using their position to cause emotional, psychological, or financial harm to a citizen of Palm Coast isn’t just innocent civil mischief. It’s corruption. And, a third degree felony:

    S.S. 838.014 Definitions.—As used in this chapter, the term:

    (4) “Corruptly” or “with corrupt intent” means acting knowingly and ***dishonestly*** for a wrongful purpose.

    S.S. 838.022 Official misconduct.—

    (1) It is unlawful for a public servant, with corrupt intent to obtain a benefit for any person ***or***>>> to cause harm to another, to:
    (a) ***Falsify, or cause another person to falsify, any official record or official document;
    (b) ***Conceal, cover up, destroy, mutilate, or alter any official record or official document or cause another person to perform such an act; or
    (c) ***Obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to the commission of a felony that directly involves or affects the public agency or public entity served by the public servant.
    (2) For the purposes of this section:
    (a) The term “public servant” does not include a candidate who does not otherwise qualify as a public servant.
    (b) An official record or official document includes only public records.
    (3) Any person who violates this section commits a ***felony of the third degree***, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

  10. PC resident says:

    Sadly. I have little faith in law enforcement in Flagler county or these “statistics.” After having our vehicle broken into (which was rampant at the time) we called and an officer came out. He told us a detective would contact us and take a report. We discovered that our debit card was used at multiple locations, totaling around $250. We did lots of leg work, contacting each place the card was used. We were even given a copy of a surveillance video of a car in a drive through at the time our card was used. We never got a call back from anyone at FCSD. Never. We made multiple calls and left detailed messages. Several months later, while talking to a deputy, I told him about the incident and the “evidence” we collected. He asked me to gather it and leave it in the mailbox and he would collect it before his shift was out and get it to the detectives. The envelope was still there the next morning.
    So would I report another crime? Probably not. My faith is gone. I have little doubt that I am alone in that either.

  11. Ray Thorne says:

    How we liking the crime rate now?

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