Mayoral candidate Lenny Curry claims that Jacksonville’s crime rates are exploding under Mayor Alvin Brown. In all actuality, violent and property crimes are at the lowest they have been in 18 years.
On Property Crime
Since 1995, property crimes are the lowest they have ever been. These results have been achieved with less police, not more. During Brown's tenure, the property crime index decreased by 11 percent and the property crime rate (crimes occurrences for every 100k persons) decreased by 12 percent.
The Curry campaign uses 2011 as a baseline for their crime stats. It’s the year Brown became mayor so the narrative is “look at the terrible things that have happened since Brown came into power.”
2011 is an interesting year. That year we lost 4 percent of our population, around 36,000 people, the first “significant” decrease since 1995 (there was a .49 percent decrease from 2008 to 2009).
2011 is also the year that we had the lowest number of murders since 1995. The next lowest year was 14 years ago in 2001, when 77 people were killed.
Are the number of murders in Jacksonville over the last two years an anomaly or outside of historic norms? It doesn't look that way.
Still, crime rhetoric has been used as political kindle since Curry started campaigning. Even former Mayor John Delaney jumped on the bandwagon. In one of Curry’s direct mail pieces Delaney is quoted as saying, “Most alarmingly, crime is on the rise, and our murder rate is skyrocketing. While our residents fear for their lives, Mayor Brown has cut police officer positions and slashed funding for public safety programs….”
This is fear mongering.
During Delaney’s tenure, the number of annual murders increased by nearly 14.5 percent. During his last three years in office the number of annual murders increased by 23 percent and continued to climb to record highs during the Peyton administration. This increase in murders occurred while there were higher numbers of police employed by JSO then there are today.
During Delaney’s final two years in office the total number of murders for 2002 and 2003 were 93 and 95, respectively. These numbers are similar to what is occurring under Brown’s administration.
The average number of murders annually, from 1995 through 2013, is 92.5 per year.
During Brown’s administration, the total number of murders in 2012 and 2013 were 94 and 93, respectively.
Average Number of Murders Per Year, Per Mayor Tenure:
- Delaney: 84 per year
- Peyton: 102 per year
- Brown: 93 per year
Every life lost to murder is a serious issue. We are not doing better as a city when 76 people are killed instead of 94; however, the number of murders that have occurred during Brown’s tenure are not outside of historical norms.
The rape figures are disheartening.
According to Curry, rape is up 35 percent over the last several years. The truth is, reported rape occurrences and all “forcible sex offenses” have steadily increased since 2005.
From 2005 through 2011, "rape by force" was up 66 percent and "total forcible sex offenses" were up 78 percent.
We'll Call this the Conclusion
During one of the lowest crime periods in Jacksonville's history we are enticed by the Curry campaign to believe that our city is barely surviving. It's simply not true. Violent crimes and property crimes are at an all time low and less police were needed to make it happen.
If you would like a copy of the crime tables from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the tables I assembled, send me an email or contact me via twitter.
Special thanks to forum member "Non-Redneck Westsider" for highlighting the crime numbers in related discussions.
Written by Arash Kamiar
Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Crime in Florida, Florida uniform crime report, 1995-2013 [Computer program]. Tallahassee, FL: FDLE. Florida Statistical Analysis Center.