Fla. overall crime rate down in first half of 2012

Rape only major crime on increase in Jacksonville

Headline Goes Here

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Florida's overall crime rate dropped by 3.8 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to the same period last year, with a similar drop in Jacksonville.

While the murder rate dropped locally, it increased in Florida, and forcible sex offenses were up significantly both in Jacksonville and across the state, based on statistics released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Thursday.

Robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and larcenies all declined -- both locally and statewide.

The statewide murder rate increased by 1.5 percent -- including an 8.2 percent rise in murders committed with firearms -- but the rate dropped by 11 percent in Jacksonville.

MORE ONLINE:  FDLE's county-by-county crime rate data

Forcible sex offenses, including rape, sodomy and fondling, also increased -- up by 10.8 percent in Jacksonville and 1.5 across the state. That includes a 40 percent increase in rapes committed using firearms although they accounted for only 73 of the 2,684 total statewide.

Overall domestic violence dropped 5.4 percent in Florida, but domestic violence murders increased by 30 percent and forcible rapes by 7 percent.

"Based on today's report, I continue to be cautiously optimistic about the indications that our three-year downward trend in crime is continuing in 2012," Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford said in a statement released Thursday. "We closely monitor all crime activity in Jacksonville, and will continue to do so."

Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey announced the figures Thursday in Tampa.

Copyright 2012 by News4Jax.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.