Florida crime rate sees modest gain, but still way down over past decade

Florida’s crime rate saw a very modest increase compared to other states last year, according to FBI statistics, putting a positive note on the Sunshine State one day after the agency sounded the alarm about the nation’s growing homicide rate.

Florida had a better trend than the nation in almost every category of violent crime. The state’s overall crime rate was 378 cases per 100,000 people in 2019. It ticked up to 383 per 100,000 in 2020, below the U.S. average of 399.

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While the nation’s homicide rate surged 30% from 2019 to 2020, Florida’s increase was 14%. The last time the rate was this high was in 2008.

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Compare the rest of the statistics to a decade ago, and Florida’s numbers begin to look even better. In 2010, 541 violent crimes were reported for every 100,000 people. Over the decade, the number of robberies, property crimes and thefts were halved. Burglaries were cut by almost 75%.

Rape reports also dropped, though law enforcement leaders worry that fewer people were making the reports during lockdown, rather than fewer rapes occurring.

There was no apparent pattern to which states saw increases in crime and which saw decreases last year. Trends did not align regionally or based on a state’s political leanings.

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“I’ve been working here over 31 years. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of violence. This is more violence than I’ve ever seen,” Philadelphia’s police chief summarized. The city saw a spike in shootings last summer. Pennsylvania’s overall crime rate increased more than the national average.

Some analysts attributed last year’s violence to protests after George Floyd’s murder, the proliferation of guns on America’s streets, as well as the politically toxic divide between the two parties.

“Anytime as a country where we’re divided, and we don’t see the common humanity of all, I do think you’ll see uptakes like that,” Bethune Cookman University Criminal Justice professor Dr. Randy Nelson said. “Either you live together as brothers, or you perish as fools.”

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According to FBI statistics, reports of hate crimes against Asians rose 70% between 2019 and 2020.

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