Local crime dips 3.3% between 2011 and 2012

FILE PHOTO - The Gainesville Police Department takes precautions with student safety at Marjorie K. Rawlings Elementary School.

Joey Flechas/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 4:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 4:46 p.m.

The crime rate in Alachua County dropped 3.3 percent in 2012 from 2011, with law enforcement crediting data analysis and increased patrols in neighborhoods with the decline.

The Gainesville Police Department had a 3.1 percent drop in the crime rate — the number of crimes per 100,000 population — while the Sheriff's Office had a 2.9 percent dip.

The only category of crime to increase between 2011 and 2012 was in sexual assaults.

The number of rapes in the county jumped from 123 in 2011 to 138 in 2012. The biggest increase in rapes was in the unincorporated area covered by the Sheriff's Office — 56 in 2012, up from 35 in 2011.

Enjoying the biggest crime reduction locally at 16.1 percent was the Alachua Police Department.

“I would attribute it to greater prevention efforts. We are increasing officer presence in areas we've identified as high-crime,” Alachua Police Department officer Jesse Sandusky said. “It deters would-be criminals from doing what they would be doing.”

GPD officer Ben Tobias attributed the decline in Gainesville to several measures, including a greater focus on getting the public to report suspicious activity.

“It's reaching out to the community and getting them more involved in reporting crime when they see it,” Tobias said.

Meanwhile, sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey said a factor in the decline was data analysis.

“We are trying to work smarter rather than harder and look at a lot of crime analysis data — look at trends and use that data to concentrate on what we are seeing come through here,” Forgey said. “Community-oriented policing has a lot to do with it, too, because deputies are tied to a specific area.”

The data compiled and released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement represents the number of crimes for serious offenses — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and car theft.

Addressing the increase in the number of sexual assaults, Forgey said the agency had not dropped any programs aimed at preventing sexual battery.

“You have to take ownership of the bad along with the good. The stats go up and down without necessarily any rhyme or reason,” Forgey said. “We have rape aggression defense training. We try to stay proactive and we haven't canceled anything.”

The county had 10 murders, two fewer than 2011.

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