Overall crime rate drops, but Jacksonville is still the murder capital of Florida

FDLE crime stats for 2020 shows increase in violent crime

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Property crimes dropped by 17% in Florida last year while the number of violent crimes edged up 2.3%, according to statistics for 2020 released Monday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

There were 1,285 murders in Florida in 2020 -- 165 more than in 2019 -- and 80% of them were committed using firearms. There were nearly 5,000 more aggravated assaults in the state last year than the year before, with 38% of those involving a gun.

The trend was similar in Duval County, where the overall crime rate in 2020 was down 9.7% but there were 12 more murders and an additional 1,075 aggravated assaults last year than in 2019. That’s a 13% increase in murder and a 25% increase in assaults.

Duval County, with 14.5 murders per 100,000 population, retained its dubious distinction as the murder capital of Florida in 2020. Escambia County, including Pensacola, had 9.8 per 100,000. Leon County, which includes Tallahassee, had 9.7 per 100,000. Statewide, the rate was 5.9 murders per 100,000.

The clearance rate — the rate cases were solved — went from 20.6 per 100 offenses in 2019 to 18.6 per 100 last year in Duval County. The statewide clearance rate in 2020 was virtually unchanged from 2019.

2020 crime rate in Florida, Northeast Florida counties

The largest drop in crime rate in Northeast Florida was in Bradford County — 33.3% — while Baker and Union counties had sight increases (1.5% and 3.7%, respectively).

In a year when many people worked at home or stayed home more often during the coronavirus pandemic, burglaries, robberies and larcenies dropped significantly. There were 13,439 robberies, a drop of 17% from 2019; 51,928 burglaries, down 17.8%; and 291,923 larcenies, down 18.5%. Motor vehicle thefts also slightly dropped.

Overall, factoring in the state’s growth in population, all crime was down 15.7% in 2020.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement began tracking crime 50 years ago in 1971 and has reported the crime rate has dropped every since.