Crime Rate Falls to Historic Low in Flagler, Mirroring State and National Trend
FlaglerLive | May 20, 2015
Flagler County’s crime rate in 2014 fell to its lowest level on record, in line with Florida’s crime rate, which fell to the lowest level since the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began tracking such numbers in 1971. The falling crime rate is a reflection of a national trend as well, with the crime rate in 2013, the last year for which national numbers are available, about half where it was in 1991. The national violent crime rate was at its lowest since 1970.
In Flagler, crime fell in every category but larcenies. There were no recorded murders, fewer rapes, robberies, burglaries and vehicle thefts. Aggravated assaults remained flat, at 204 (two fewer than the previous year) and larcenies increased slightly to 1,399. Larcenies include car break-ins such as a rash of those break-ins last week, all of which targeting cars that had been left unlocked (as is the case with the overwhelming majority of all car break-ins.)
The overall crime rate in Flagler has never been high: it has never crossed the 3,000-per-100,000 threshold, for example, though it came close to that mark in 2007, at the height of the housing boom. It has rather fluctuated in the 2,500 range. But in the last five years, the rate has fallen each year, and was down to 2,073 in 2014. That’s significantly lower than the Florida crime rate of 3,451, and lower than that of St. Johns (2,130.2), Volusia (3,551), Putnam (3,538) and Orange (4,687.9).
“The things the Sheriff’s Office can affect and I’m most proud of is the burglary rate,” Sheriff Jim Manfre said today. “Because those are the things that traumatize the public the most, and the fact that the amount of burglaries are less than they were 15 years ago, that’s the success story in my mind, and that’s clearly from the increased patrolling in the streets and the clearance rate.”
The decline is a national trend, Manfre said, but “but I think in Flagler County we’re seeing an even greater reduction than nationally and statewide,” he said, crediting as well the Bunnell and Flagler Beach police departments.
Yet Flagler County’s rate is by no means among the lowest in the county: 22 of the state’s 67 counties have lower crime rates, most of those being small, rural counties, with Liberty County boasting a rate of just 623 and Lafayette at 805.
Bunnell continues to account for a hugely disproportionate number of arrests in the county.
Within Flagler, which had a population of just shy of 100,000 in 2014, there were 2,990 arrests in 2014, all but 187 of them adults. The Sheriff’s Office carried out the majority of those arrests, with 2,243. But again, in a recurringly stunning number, Bunnell, which has a population of 2,800, rec orded 479 arrests, with an arrest rate of 17,187 per 100,000 (compared to the county’s overall arrest rate of 2,441). There were 101 arrests in Flagler Beach.
Asked about Bunnell’s numbers, Manfre said: “It’s the only area in our community that has a concentrated area of low, socio-economic conditions, and that leads to an increase in crime, it’s something that we as a nation and state and county have to put more resources in to break that cycle. We have to address it, we have to find tools.” He added: “We do have a risk of social unrest in my opinion.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released the statewide and county-by-county numbers today. The total number of crimes fell 3.6 percent from last year, it indicated in a news release, which translates into 25,476 fewer crimes than in 2013. Overall the number of violent crimes dropped 0.7 percent while nonviolent crime fell 4.1 percent. Murder and sex offenses were up slightly while robbery and burglary fell.
Juvenile arrests have also fallen significantly, by almost 5 percent (to 23,884 statewide).
The number of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty increased in 2014 to six. Four officers died after being shot and two were killed by vehicles. Domestic violence offenses were down 1 percent from 2013. Domestic violence murders were up 24 deaths last year while domestic violence manslaughter was down five deaths.
“The results of the 2014 Annual Crime Report are testimony to the dedication and hard work of deputy sheriffs and law enforcement officers across the state,” Florida Sheriffs Association President and St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said in the release. “This report also demonstrates the effectiveness of sending deserving criminals to prison, keeping them away from law-abiding citizens.”
Flagler County Crime and Crime Rates, 2000-2015
|Year (Sheriff)||Pop.||Total Crime Index||Index % Change|
from Previous Year
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.