Alachua County, Gainesville see slight drop in crime
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012 at 4:29 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 2, 2012 at 4:29 p.m.
Crimes reported to Gainesville Police and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office dropped slightly in the first half of 2012 compared with the same period in 2011, according to state authorities.
That decrease came despite increases in certain crimes, including rapes and burglaries.
Data released this week by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows crime for all of Alachua County down by 0.9 percent. Crimes in the jurisdiction of ASO dropped 2 percent, while Gainesville crime dipped 0.6 percent.
Reported crime was also lower in Alachua and at the University of Florida, but it increased in High Springs and at Santa Fe College.
Sheriff's Lt. Jayson Levy and GPD Lt. Will Halvosa both attributed the lower crime rates to greater prevention efforts, including community policing and tracking crime through data analysis.
"We are doing a lot of crime prevention programs. Our folks are being proactive in the communities, getting out and talking to people," Levy said. "We are focusing on really talking to people. Deputies in the schools explain the consequences of actions. As an agency, we are working as much as we can with the community."
Halvosa said the department has strengthened its efforts to prevent and track crime, including creating the position that he now holds — crime reduction manager.
Halvosa said GPD data for the entire year so far indicates crime has dropped about 3 percent, while the goal for the year is 5 percent.
"We continue to do a lot of things with juveniles because they continue to drive much of our crime," Halvosa said. "We look for spikes that become anomalies from the year before — it might be assaults, sexual batteries, robberies — then we decide to go at it through our crime prevention officers. Over the last year and a half we have really become data-driven."
The data compiled by FDLE is supplied by sheriff's offices and police departments for major crimes — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and vehicle theft.
This year the countywide numbers of murders, rapes and burglaries increased while the other crimes dipped.
The county had five murders in the first six months of 2012 and four from January through June last year. Rapes were up from 60 last year to 73. Burglaries totalled 967 this year compared with 911 last year.
Meanwhile, robberies dropped to 123 in the first half of 2012 from 146 in 2011. Aggravated assaults totalled 576 this year compared with 588 last year. Theft declined from 3,057 cases in 2011 to 3,005 this year. This year 170 vehicle thefts occurred, compared with 200 last year.
Statewide crime is down 3.8 percent, according to FDLE.
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