Extending a multiyear trend of the crime rate in the state doing down, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Monday the overall rate in Florida is at a 41-year low.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says the rate dropped another 0.8 percent statewide in 2011. The number of violent crimes (murder, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault) was down by 3.7 percent.
"While it is good news ... we must continue to remember that each crime represents a victim whose rights must be protected," Gov. Rick Scott said. "I applaud the dedication and hard work of our law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to make our state safer and our communities more secure."
The report showed a 0.2 percent decrease in the number of murders, a 0.1 percent decrease in forcible sex offenses, a 1.8 percent decrease in robberies and a 5 percent drop in aggravated assault.
Non-violent crime (burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft) increased 0.4 percent. Burglary and larceny each rose 0.7 percent. The number of motor vehicle thefts decreased by 4.4 percent.
Domestic violence offenses continued to decline in 2011, showing a 1.5 percent drop from 2010 numbers. Cohabitants continue to be the largest group of victims in this category, with spouses remaining the second largest group.
Violent crimes committed by firearms continued to drop from 25,184 in 2010 to 24,737 in 2011. The number of justifiable homicides increased in 2011. Seventy felons were killed by police officers, compared to 56 in 2010. The number of felons killed by private citizens increased to 48, compared to 40 in 2010.
There were 36,670 fewer crimes reported in Jacksonville in 2011 than the previous year and the number of murders dropped to 76, although Duval County still leads the state in the number of homicides.
While most northeast Florida counties followed the downward trend, the crime rate was higher in Bradford, Clay, Columbia, St. Johns and Union counties. [Read county-by-county crime data]
Clay County Sheriff Rick Beseler said that while violent crimes decreased last year, the increase in property crimes caused the overall rate to increase. He also said that Clay County continues to have one of the lowest crime rates in the state and its percent of crimes solved is very high.
Columbia county pointed out that while they had three homicides in 2011, all were solved and a suspect arrested within hours of each crime.
"Since FDLE began tracking crime statistics in 1971, citizens are safer today than any time in the last four decades," said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.
On the other hand, 2011 was a difficult year for law enforcement personnel. Seven officers and one correctional officer died from criminal activity while on duty during 2011. In addition, three law enforcement officers died accidentally during the course of duty.