Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Crime Down In Collier County

Sheriff Don Hunter is once again pleased to announce that the number of reported crimes in Collier County has decreased, with a 1.3 percent downturn in crime countywide and a 2 percent drop for the areas under the Collier County Sheriff's Office's jurisdiction, Florida Department of Law Enforcement numbers show.

For the Collier County Sheriff's office, homicides were down 70 percent, from 10 between January and June 2007 to three during the same period this year. Aggravated assaults dropped 13 percent, burglaries by 13 percent and vehicle thefts by 11 percent. The number of reported sexual assaults held steady, with 29 reported during the first six months of 2007 and during the same time period this year. Only larcenies, or thefts, increased, going up by 8 percent.

Countywide, homicides dropped 70 percent, from 10 reported between January and June 2007 to three reported during that time period this year. Aggravated assaults dropped by 12 percent, burglaries by 14 percent and vehicle theft by 11 percent. Sexual assaults held steady, with 31 reported during that time frame. Only larcenies, or thefts, increased 8 percent.

The figures are part of the 2008 Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report, which provides a preliminary indication of this year’s crime figures. The report includes data submitted by 406 law enforcement agencies for crimes reported from January through June of this year.

In fact, 2007 marked the sixth consecutive year of a decrease in crime in unincorporated Collier County. The only increase reported was in the number of larcenies, and part of the reason for the rise is that more people are choosing to report crimes to law enforcement.

Collier County's continuing trend in decreases in crime is significant for our community and needs to be maintained into the future as economic conditions weaken or struggle to improve over the next year.

The Agency's partnerships with residents, business owners, government agencies, the school district and civic groups has helped keep crime down in our community. Deputies' commitment to keep our streets safe by focusing on career criminals, gang members and those individuals who are in our country illegally have also aided our efforts. From our sexual offender tracking to our COMSTAT meetings that capture crime trends to our work in Collier County’s schools, the Agency is dedicated to using innovative ways to improve public safety for our residents and visitors.

In particular, our very effective programs in the Youth and Delinquency Services Division have helped keep our streets safe by keeping track of juvenile offenders. Daytime burglaries, vandalism and larcenies have decreased because of programs such as ASSIST (Alternative School Support in Suspension and Truancy). That program allowed the Agency to partner with the school district to help reduce out-of-school suspensions under the supervision of a deputy. Because that program has been phased out by the school district for financial reasons, Sheriff Hunter is concerned that there may be an increase in burglaries, thefts and vandalism because the juvenile offenders could now be out on the streets instead of under supervision.

Reported crime has also taken a downturn because of the work of Criminal Alien Task Force to identify and detain those people here illegally in the United States or who have overstayed their visas and broke the law by staying here illegally. Nearly 700 people have been removed from the U.S. by this program since it began 16 months ago. Our numbers show that nearly 23 percent of all crimes committed in Collier County can be attributed to these illegally present foreign nationals.

See attached document for the semiannual crime figures.