GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Clay County's overall crime rate dropped 9.6 percent in 2017 and is considerably lower than the state average. Its crime rate is on par with the rate in Nassau and St. Johns counties -- Jacksonville's other fast-growing commuter counties.
While there was one less murder in 2017 than 2016 and there were fewer rapes, robberies, burglaries and thefts, aggravated assaults increased from 344 to 399, sending Clay County's violent crime rate up 4.3 percent.
"I’m not going to allow certain things to happen in Clay County. Yes, sometimes I get on the platform and it sounds, for some, entertaining, and for others, they take it seriously," Sheriff Darryl Daniels said. "But they should be taking it very seriously when I say, 'To commit crimes in Clay County, it’s something that’s not going to be tolerated."
Daniels said a couple of things help reduce crime numbers, including partnerships between the sheriff's office has with surrounding agencies and the hard work of his deputies on the streets every day.
"They bust their butts on a daily basis, putting themselves in harm's way to do things that some people only see in the movies or on TV. They are in some very dangerous situations,'" Daniels said.
CRIME DATA: FDLE crime stats for state, NE Florida counties
Not included in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Uniform Crime Reports are drug arrests. Daniels has made that a focus since he took office, believing strongly that illegal drugs feed other crimes. He said that will continue to be a focus going forward.
"The folks in Middleburg have had enough and they reach out to me. The folks in Keystone Heights have had enough and they reach out to me," Daniels said. "(If) they are upset enough to reach out to me, then, by God, I’m going to do something about it. I think I owe them that much."
Daniels had his coffee cup close by as he spoke to News4Jax, a reminder to people that even though the crime numbers are down, the work isn’t done, and his three big gulps will continue as long as crime does.