2020 was weird in so many ways. One of the oddities during the year was a short-lived decline in overall crime at the onset of the lockdowns which gave way to a significant increase in other crimes a short time later. There were numerous catalysts. Among them, COVID-related hardships which led to violence, civil unrest, defunding police movements, and subsequent changes in proactive policing in communities across the country.
In Florida, according to the Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the news was generally good for the first half of 2020. In fact, we bucked most of the national trends in a good way, starting with total crime decreasing by nearly 12%. That’s a total of 31,000 fewer reported crimes than the year prior despite Florida’s significant population gain over that period.
The fly in the ointment is where we did see an increase. While overall property crime was down 14% year over year, to the lowest levels in over 50 years, crime happening from those living in their home wasn’t as positive. Murders increased by 16% with the largest increases coming from murders with a knife at 33%. That jibes with domestic violence concerns voiced during the lockdowns in which some family members were shut in with violent family members. In general, Florida’s story continued to be a positive one. We’ve experienced an annual decline in overall crime every year since 2008 and based on the first half of 2020’s report, it appears as though that trend will continue.
In South Florida, our story was especially positive. The declines in crime by county came in as 13.5% for Broward, Miami-Dade with 14.6%, and Palm Beach County with 4.8%. It’s notable that Florida’s two largest counties produced better than average declines in crime. It also helps illustrate the importance of South Floridians supporting law enforcement and the benefit of proactive policing.
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