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Sheriff reports continuing decline in crime
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Graphic courtesy PCSO
While crime continues a downward trend, arrests for Part 1 crimes by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office are up nearly 22 percent in 2013 as compared to 2012.
Graphic courtesy PCSO
Total Part 1 Crimes are down 23.83 percent from 2009 to 2013 in Pinellas County Sheriff’s service area.
LARGO – The crime rate in Pinellas County is going down, in alignment with a statewide trend of record low numbers.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri reported March 5 that the 2013 overall crime rate decreased by 5 percent. Part 1 crimes are down by 5.8 percent.

Gualtieri’s statistics cover only the areas within the sheriff’s service area – unincorporated Pinellas and the municipalities of Belleair Beach, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Shore, Dunedin, Indian Rocks Beach, Madeira Beach, North Redington Beach, Oldsmar, Redington Beach, Safety Harbor, Seminole, South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach.

Gualtieri pointed out that 2013 is the fifth consecutive year that Part 1 Crimes have gone down. Over the past five years, Part 1 Crime is down 23.8 percent.

Part 1 Crimes are the most serious crimes, which according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report are homicide, forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft.

Gualtieri reported that in 2013 homicides went down 64.7 percent; forcible sex offenses, 9.72 percent; robbery, 12 percent; burglary, 10.4 percent; larceny, 4.6 percent; and motor vehicle theft, 8.95 percent.

Aggravated assault was the only category with an increase – up 9.23 percent, which was due to the number of victims not cases, the report said. The number of aggravated assault cases involving firearms also increased by 41 percent. Sixty-one cases were reported in 2012 and 86 in 2013. However, the number of Part 1 crimes involving firearms went down by nearly 24.5 percent.

Seventeen homicides were investigated in 2012 – one of the highest numbers in recent years. In 2013, the number of homicides went down to six – one of the lowest in recent years.

In his report, Gualtieri noted that arrests for Part 1 crimes also were increasing – up by nearly 22 percent compared to 2012. Arrests for Part 1 and Part 2 crime were up by 9.65 percent. The closure rate for Part 1 crimes also went up by 12.48 percent.

He also pointed out that the decrease in crime came at a time when budget cuts had forced a significant decrease in personnel. Over the past five years, PCSO has cut more than 600 positions, including 167 law enforcement deputies, he said.

PSCO provides service to more than 50 percent of the total land area in Pinellas and provides primary law enforcement for more than 41 percent of the population.

“The numbers continue to head in the right direction – and it’s a tribute to the day-to-day good work by all Sheriff’s Office members who have worked tirelessly to achieve this significant and sustained crime reduction,” Gualtieri said in a press release.

Crime down throughout Florida

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reports that the state’s crime volume is down to a record low. The semi-annual Uniform Crime Report released in November showed that crime volume had dropped 5.2 percent compared to the first six months of 2012.

“Our communities are on a path to a 43 year crime low, which improves the quality of life for families and benefits all aspects of our communities,” Gov. Rick Scott said during a Nov. 19 press conference.

The mid-year report showed that violent crime was down 3.5 percent statewide, including a 10.6 percent drop in murders, 2 percent drop in robberies and a 4.2 percent decrease in aggravated assault. Non-violent crime also decreased 5.5 percent.

“These numbers reflect historic lows,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “Law enforcement is working hard to make Florida a safe place to live, work and play.”
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