Florida Reaches Lowest Crime Rate in 36 Years

Governor Charlie Crist and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey today announced Florida's index crime rate has reached a 36-year low and dropped by 1.0 percent in 2006 when compared to the rate for 2005. The rates are part of the state's 2006 Annual Uniform Crime Report released this week.

"Florida's history of being tough on violent crime is serving the people of Florida well, but we must do everything within our power to make certain we are keeping criminals off our streets," Governor Crist said. "Without a doubt, ensuring the safety of the people of Florida is government's most important role, and I am committed to doing everything possible to make our neighborhoods safer."

Governor Crist's Anti-Murder Act, signed into law during March, requires violent felony offenders who violate probation to remain in jail until a court finds that they do not pose a danger to the community. Additionally, Governor Crist last week signed legislation to strengthen sentencing laws for sexual offenses and enhance law enforcement capabilities in Florida, further protecting Florida's children from predators. He also announced last week that he has petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to convene a statewide grand jury to investigate an increase in crimes that can be attributed to gang activity.

"It is encouraging to see a decrease in the overall crime rate, and I commend Florida's local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for their tireless efforts in keeping our communities safe," said Attorney General Bill McCollum. "I am, however, concerned about the increase in gun violence and drug related crime. I look forward to working with the statewide grand jury and our law enforcement partners to develop an aggressive strategy to combat violent crime, particularly gang-related crime, in our state."

From 2005 to 2006, Florida's population increased by 2.4 percent, or almost 500,000 new residents. Even during this time of growth, Florida's index crime rate decreased 1.0 percent. Long-range comparisons show that the rate is down approximately 38 percent since 1996. The reported index crimes include murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

"While we are pleased to see the state's crime rate continue to drop for more than three and a half decades, we must continue to focus our commitment and resources on the safety of our citizens," FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said. "Florida's law enforcement, prosecutors, and criminal justice partners will continue to work aggressively to combat crime in Florida."

In addition, the report revealed that crime volume, the actual number of reported crimes, increased by 1.4 percent. Of those reported crimes, non-violent crimes decreased, and violent crimes were slightly up from 2005 but down 14.4 percent since 1996. The rate of violent crime increased by 0.5 percent over the 2005 rate, while non-violent crimes resulted in a 1.2 percent decrease for the same period.

The number of reported domestic violence offenses decreased by 4.3 percent from last year. Related domestic violence offenses also showed a decrease over last year. Spouses and cohabitants continue to account for more than half the domestic violence crimes, with one-seventh of the state's murders being domestic violence related incidents. Manslaughter and aggravated stalking showed an increase.

The report shows that arrests increased 5.2 percent over last year, totaling 1,110,676 during the 2006 calendar year. Drug offenders continue to be the largest singularly defined category, with 168,119 arrests, or 15.1 percent of the total. The arrest of juveniles increased by 0.8 percent while arrests of adults increased by 5.7 percent.

The 2006 Annual Uniform Crime Report includes crimes reported during 2006 and data submitted by 410 of the 416 local, county and state law enforcement agencies. These agencies serve approximately 99.9 percent of the state's population. The complete report, including county-by-county breakdowns, can be found of FDLE's Web site


For more information, contact:

Heather Smith or Kristen Perezluha
FDLE Public Information Office
(850) 410-7001