Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Crime hits 18-year low in St. Augustine (SAR)

1. Good work by SAPD resulted in lowering the crime rate in St. Augustine for seven crimes reported to the FBI.

2. Much better training and recruitment of officers since the bad 'ole days under City "Manager" WILLIAM BARRY HARRISS, when officers tackled Marshall Burns into quadriplegia, resulting in tax increase and $3.5 million payout.  City Attorney James Patrick Wilson claimed in a shade meeting that the Burns case was worth only $100,000.  Wrong. City of St. Augustine had to raise taxes for three years to pay $1.5 million not covered by insurance.  $1 million was paid by insurance for Christopher's bar and $1 million by City's National League of Cities' insurance.

3. St. Augustine and St. Johns County still have a problem with white collar and organized crime  -- FEMA fraud, corruption, developer chicanery, wage theft and landlord exploitation. of tenants.

4. SAPD appears much more proactive than SJSO or State's Attorney on white collar crime.

5. Keep up the good work -- don't forget that the laws apply to everyone, including the LEN WEEKS and JOE BOLES of the world.

6. Justice for Michelle O'Connell. St. Johns County "Sheriff*" DAVID SHOAR needs to resign -- it's a disgrace that Deputy JEREMY BANKS has never been taken to a grand jury, and that BANKS still carries a gun and badge.

Crime hits 18-year low in St. Augustine
By Jared Keever
Posted at 2:01 AM
Updated at 4:19 AM
St. Augustine Record

Crime in St. Augustine has been trending downward for the last 10 years and has a reached a fairly significant milestone.

“We are at an all-time, 18-year low right now,” Police Chief Barry Fox told city commissioners at their Monday night meeting. “This is the lowest we’ve been in 18 years.”

The remarks came during Fox’s presentation of the city’s uniform crime report, or UCR, which showed that the city’s crime rate per 100,000 dropped 19.9 percent from 2016 to 2017.

The figures, Fox explained, come from a compilation of reported crimes used by state and federal authorities for computing the rate that include, murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. Converting figures in the city to a rate per 100,000 makes it easier for officials to compare rates to other cities across the state and country.

In 2016 the rate was 5,513.9 per 100,000 and was 4,414.9 for 2017, records show.

A graph included in Fox’s presentation showed that the recent decline is a trend that began in 2012 where numbers spiked briefly after a two-year decline that began in 2008.

Though robberies have been trending up in the last two years, most other categories are down or holding close to steady over the same period, the numbers show.

The most headway appears to have been made in the larceny category and Fox said he attributes that to preventing what he called “crimes of opportunity,” and thefts from unlocked cars, in particular.

“We went from 110 in 2016 to 70 reported in 2017,” he said.

Most of the prevention effort has centered around a social media campaign, dubbed the #9pmroutine, that urges people to lock their car doors in their driveway before heading to bed for the evening.

“We’ve really embraced that recently,” he said.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has also been promoting the campaign in an effort to reduce the same type of crime, and Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chuck Mulligan said in May that his agency was possibly starting to see results as well.

Mulligan spoke with The Record shortly after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released the state UCR that showed all of St. Johns County (including St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach) had an 11.8 percent drop in crime last year that was bolstered by significant drops in larceny, burglaries, aggravated assaults and murders.

While Mulligan pointed out that certain violent crimes can be difficult to reduce, some of the others can be targeted for prevention and he also credited the social media #9pmroutine with reducing the numbers in property crimes.

It is a difficult thing to prove, but Mulligan said he hoped the drop was indicative that those efforts -- which have also been adopted by the St. Augustine Beach Police Department -- were gaining some traction in getting people to help prevent the burglaries.

Fox said Monday that he thinks that message is really getting across these days.

“We believe the community is really being diligent about locking things up,” he said.

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