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After five years of battling persistent crime and leading the state in annual statistics, the efforts of law enforcement have propelled Leon County out of the top spot.

2020欧洲杯正规平台Self-reported uniform crime data provided to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows Leon County fell to 3rd in the state in per capita crime rate, or incidents per 100,000 people. It fell behind Bay County, now the highest in the state.

2020欧洲杯正规平台It’s a triumph for law enforcement officials who have spent years shifting their efforts and for elected leaders who have pleaded with the community to stem gun violence that has plagued the city.

2020欧洲杯正规平台Leon County reported 3,845 incidents per 100,000 people in 2019, a 13.7% drop from the year before. Officials reported a decline in every crime but murder, of which there were 21.

In 2018, there were 20 homicides in Leon County. 

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Rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft all dropped. Property crime specifically declined by more than 14%.

2020欧洲杯正规平台“As a result, Leon County no longer has the highest per capita crime rate in the state,” the Leon County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a press release.

2020欧洲杯正规平台Sheriff Walt McNeil said the efforts of state, local and federal partnerships to harness resources made a difference in three key areas — burglaries, larcenies and vehicle break-ins — that drove down the crime rate.

2020欧洲杯正规平台Sheriffs across the 2nd Judicial Circuit worked in collaboration to catch criminals who used county lines as a jurisdictional barrier and were able to tap into Florida Highway Patrol resources to monitor the roadways.

McNeil also noted the effect of the nightly push for people to lock their vehicles and remove valuables, done though a mix of serious and cheeky social media posts about the 9 p.m. routine, and more citizen input.

“It does speak to the value of having real collaboration and really having strategies that are embraced by not only our law enforcement partners but embraced by our community,” McNeil said.

For years the crime rate led to headlines and forced local officials to defend the efforts of police as violence continued to erupt.

2020欧洲杯正规平台But the numbers hold some caveats, officials warned.

Most of the crime, as much as 80%, happens within the city of Tallahassee and the crime rates themselves didn’t tell the full picture. Students account for a huge influx of people that aren’t counted in the county’s population but still contribute to offenses.

2020欧洲杯正规平台They also held a place where, by changing the formula of how data is collected and submitted, numbers could also go down.

In 2018, the Tallahassee Police Department shifted its policies on how incidents are reported after an audit found officers tended to over-report.

2020欧洲杯正规平台Under the policy changes on reporting, a number of vehicle burglaries in the same area — that is, done in the same manner and believed to be committed by the same suspect — are logged as one incident.

Multiple hotel rooms break-ins in the same building, around the same time and likely by the same suspect, also are one case. Only crimes against tenants in extended stay hotels require separate case numbers.

TPD Chief Lawrence Revell credited the success to his predecessor, former Chief Michael DeLeo who resigned last year, and his efforts at implementing programs and specialized units to target crime where it occurs.

The numbers are encouraging, but crime is still a reality, Revell said: “It’s not about numbers. It’s about people but we’ll certainly take the success where they come.”

He said the changes in TPD's reporting systems and the joint task forces aimed at burglary and auto thefts made a huge dent in not only those crimes but associated violence.  

2020欧洲杯正规平台Collaborating with the Sheriff’s Office and police forces at each of the three higher education institutions has created a uniform approach where shared information about crime is paying off. Additionally, input from citizens working with police now more than ever in helping solve crimes is making a difference, he said.

2020欧洲杯正规平台“It’s much more now about maintaining those practices but continuing to gain that community support and community participation that has truly gotten so much better,” said Revell, who was hired in December after serving almost 30 years at TPD.

2020欧洲杯正规平台“Whether you believe in the stats as they’ve been claimed in the last several years about us being the most violent city in the state, it’s certainly a victory lap and something we can celebrate that those numbers are going down.”

In the past year, youth crime, particularly involving gun violence, has crept into more of the everyday work of law enforcement. 

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► In 2 months, 53 guns stolen from unlocked vehicles; Tallahassee officials see crime connection

► Midyear crime stats show decline in Leon County — but murders up

It's prompted prosecutors to take more hard line approaches that include charging more teens as adults.

2020欧洲杯正规平台But McNeil said continuing to keep resources at the level it took to get crime down by 32% in the past three years may not be sustainable.

The real efforts needed to be turned to human and social services –mental health, employment, reentry – to get at the root causes of crime.

“None of that is going to be sustainable unless we can start working with the causes and environment that breeds young people stepping into the breach,” said McNeil, a former Tallahassee police chief.

“It can be done but I can tell you it’s difficult to continue to muster that level of resources in an ongoing basis over the next several years.”

Contact Karl Etters at ketters@guatemo.com or @KarlEtters on Twitter.

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