The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) has released the 2011 crime statistics for Florida and its 67 counties. Overall, the number of violent crime and non-violent crime incidents again fell in the state and in Palm Beach County. However, motor vehicle theft increased from last year.
“The decline in crime overall, and especially violent crime, is part of a continuing trend that started in the late 1990s,” said Michael L. Rodriguez, executive director of the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission (CJC).
The FDLE data shows that the 2011 crime rate was the lowest in the state in 41 years, while Palm Beach County had the lowest index crime rate since 1995 (the latest year available to the county). Rodriguez noted that this is a reduction of 54 percent compared with 1995.
Rodriguez agrees with a number of city police chiefs who attribute the continued decline in crime to improved technology and a savvy public that is better aware of what’s going on in the community. “Some have also noted the maintenance of community policing and focusing on intelligence-led police techniques to properly resource hotspots,” he said.
In addition, Rodriguez stated that the work of CJC members is ensuring that we don’t become complacent with this trend. “While local law enforcement plays a pivotal role, we should be mindful of the others who contribute to our safety, such as the state attorney and public defender, and the courts.”
Rodriguez noted the importance of programs that help those released from incarceration to return to our community as law abiding citizens. “We have a responsibility to our community to help individuals who have served their sentences,” Rodriguez said. “We need to help them make choices that enhance public safety rather than have individuals return to a life of crime upon release.”
Furthermore, the CJC recognizes the importance of funding treatment programs such as adult and delinquency drug court, which address the root cause of criminal activity. “It’s always less expensive to fund treatment than it is to incarcerate offenders,” Rodriguez said. “This is why we need to continue to invest in prevention and to effectively deploy resources throughout our community to prevent the return of crime rates not seen since the 1980s.”
For more information, please contact Rosalind Murray with the Criminal Justice Commission at (561) 355-4943.
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