Thanks to a quieter Flagler Beach, there were a few more crimes in Flagler County and its cities overall in 2016, compared to the previous year, but the population continued to increase at a an annual pace of just under 2,000 people, to the overall crime rate fell again, as it did the two previous years, to just over 2,000 crimes per 100,000 people.
One of the most significant increases in crime in 2016 was in domestic violence, which spiked 8.1 percent, with a total of 667 incidents reported. Domestic violence incidents are notoriously under-reported.
Total arrests were down 4.7 percent, and the violent-crime rate was down 2.3 percent, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement today.
Flagler’s traditional claim that it is among the safest counties in the state is still tenable, but not by much: at least 23 counties have a lower crime index out of 65 counties in the state. There would normally be 67, but this year the numbers Gadsden and Gilchrist counties sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were incomplete.
The lower crime rate marked the final year of former Sheriff Jim Manfre’s second administration, years that saw the crime rate remain relatively low and flat, compared to the dozen years that had preceded it–including during his first stint as sheriff between 2001 and 2004. The county’s crime rate peaked in 2007, at the height of the housing boom, and has been on a downward trend since. It has not gone back up despite the stronger economy, in that sense mirroring Florida’s crime rate, which fell to a 46-year low in 2016. The state’s crime rate declined by 2.8 percent. Flagler’s declined by 1 percent.
The county saw no murders in 2016, though that will change in 2017: there’s been two murders so far this year, both of them involving family members (a father allegedly murdering his son, a wife allegedly murdering her husband). There were three fewer reported rapes in 2016 compared to the previous year’s tally of 23 (none involving firearms or knives), but the total of 32 robberies is an increase of six from the previous year. Ten of those robberies involved firearms. There were 206 aggravated assault, barely fewer than the previous year, and 334 burglaries, a 12 percent decline over the previous year. About half involved forced entry.
Larcenies increased to 1,405, a 6 percent increase. Larcenies include shoplifting (258), and thefts from vehicles, with the greater majority of those vehicles having been left unlocked (555). Vehicle thefts, at 105, were barely changed.
The total value reported stolen countywide in 2016 was $3.56 million, of which $1.93 million was recovered. By far the bulk of that value was in vehicles, with $1.67 million stolen and $1.5 million recovered: 52 vehicles were stolen and recovered locally, 41 vehicles were stolen in Flagler and recovered in other jurisdictions, and 52 vehicles were stolen elsewhere and recovered in Flagler.
Next was jewelry, with more than half a million dollars stolen, and just $71,000 recovered.
Sheriff Rick Staly has been putting a focus on domestic violence. The total numbers in 2016 do show an 8.1 percent increase, with 513 simple assaults,
109 aggravated assaults and 30 cases of threats and intimidation or stalking. Cases of rape and molestation, or fondling, are included in the domestic violence tallies. There were 13 cases of fondling in 2013, an increase of three over the previous year.
Out of those 663 reported cases of domestic violence, 150, or 23 percent, involved spouses, 77 involved a parent (11.6 percent), 63 involved a child, and 196 involved a “cohabitant,” which could mean a roommate or a live-in lover. Out of those 663 reported offenses, there were 362 arrests.
The numbers reflect the total offenses reported to police through all the county’s police agencies and state agencies that operate in the county, including the Florida Highway Patrol and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has arresting powers. Reported crime is always lower than actual crime, as many incidents are never reported.
Looking at the numbers by jurisdiction, Flagler Beach saw a 15.4 percent decline in reported crime, which pushed the overall crime rate downward even though it went up a shade in sheriff’s jurisdictions, which include Palm Coast and unincorporated Flagler County, as well as in Bunnell. See the detailed breakdown here.
In 2016, there were 132 juvenile arrests in Flagler County (including 13 in Flagler Beach and just two in Bunnell), down from 163 juvenile arrests in 2015.
Gov. Rick Scott touted the lower crime rate in a release. “In 2016, Florida’s law enforcement was tested like never before,” he was quoted as saying. “From the horrific terror attack at Pulse Nightclub to Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, Florida’s men and women in uniform have answered the call. I want to thank all of our law enforcement for putting their lives on the line to keep Florida’s families safe. Our state’s continuously decreasing crime rate is a reminder of the dedication and hard work Florida’s law enforcement officers show every day.”
Flagler County Crime and Crime Rates, 2000-2018
|Year (Sheriff)||Pop.*||Total Crime Index||Index % Change|
from Previous Year
Note: The crime figures listed in the table represent the incidence of reported 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.