Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact Florida | St. Petersburg Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

Florida crime rate has hit a 39-year low

The statement

"Florida is enjoying its lowest crime rate in 39 years."

Gov. Charlie Crist, on his U.S. Senate campaign website.

The ruling

We turned to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which issued a news release April 7 stating, "Governor Crist announces lowest crime rate in 39 years."

The purpose of the news release was to announce the state's Annual Uniform Crime Report for 2009. It stated that "the report indicates the state's overall index crime rate has reached a 39-year low, declining by 6.4 percent in 2009, compared to 2008. The number of violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault) committed in Florida dropped 10 percent last year; the number of non-violent crimes (burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft) decreased 6.2 percent."

The report includes offenses reported during 2009 and data submitted by 409 of the 415 local, county and state law enforcement agencies that serve approximately 99.9 percent of the state's population, according to the news release.

The FDLE's website includes a chart of crime stats starting in 1971. For 1971 it states that Florida's population was about 7.04 million and the total number of crimes was 399,055. Those numbers translated to a rate of 5,667.5 crimes per 100,000 people. By 2009, the state's population had risen to about 18.75 million and the total number of crimes was 824,559. That translated to a crime rate of 4,397.5 crimes per 100,000 — or the lowest since the state started counting in 1971.

So clearly the crime rate in 2009 was the lowest it had been since 1971.

But it's worth noting that the drop in the crime rate below the 1971 figure — 5,667.5 — occurred years before Crist became governor in January 2007. The rate fell to 5,604.3 in 2000 and then stayed below that 1971 figure every year since. The rate was 4,632 in 2006, rose to 4,694.7 in 2007, rose to 4,699.8 in 2008 and then fell to 4,397.5. In other words, for two of Crist's years as governor, the crime rate increased while in one year it decreased.

We wondered did FDLE collect the data the same way in 1971 as it did for 2009? We spoke to Kristen Chernosky, a spokeswoman at the FDLE. She said the FDLE collected the data in 1971 the same as today — by asking law enforcement agencies across the state to voluntarily submit it. We asked: Did the vast majority comply during the first year?

Chernosky said there were 334 agencies that reported in 1971, but Chernosky was uncertain how many agencies existed at that time, so she didn't have a percentage of reporting compliance.

Of course, crime statistics are only as good as the agencies that report them. In at least a few high-profile instances, police agencies were accused of doctoring crime reports.

So how does Crist's claim stack up? He's right that the state's crime rate in 2009 was lower than it was in 1971. But Crist omits that it had dropped below the 1971 rate before he became governor and that the rate went up his first two years in office. We rate this claim Mostly True.

Edited for print. For more, go to politifact.com/florida.

Florida crime rate has hit a 39-year low 09/20/10 [Last modified: Monday, September 20, 2010 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Authorities say cocaine is making comeback in Florida

    Crime

    FORT LAUDERDALE — Drug enforcement officials say traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade.

    Traffickers are bringing more cocaine into South Florida than at any time in the past decade, officials say.  [Times files]
  2. Amid escalating Russia crisis, Trump considers major staff changes

    National

    President Donald Trump and his advisers, seeking to contain the escalating Russia crisis that threatens to consume his presidency, are considering a retooling of his senior staff and the creation of a "war room" within the White House, according to several aides and outside Trump allies.

    President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a retooling of his senior staff. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
  3. Karen Lugo, 13, from Tampa, holds up her IPad Mini to take a picture of herself while relaxing in the sand alongside her mother, Karen Castro (on left), at the North Beach area of Fort DeSoto on Memorial Day (05/27/13). Karen comes to the beach with her family for holidays, she said. Also present was her older brother and three cousins.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, with Cobb pitching with a purpose

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:34: Cash said he has been pleased with Sucre's work and is trying to find playing time for him. ... Cash also said after reading Farquhar's comments about having trouble re-focusing after getting out of a jam and then going back out for a second inning he will factor that in to how he uses him. ... …

  5. To many Americans, Memorial Day has lost its meaning

    Nation

    ANNVILLE, Pa. — Allison Jaslow heard it more than once as the long holiday weekend approached — a cheerful "Happy Memorial Day!" from oblivious well-wishers.

    Sgt. Heather Lynn Johnsen, of Roseville, Calif., guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Friday, March 22, 1996, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. [Associated Press file]