FDLE released its semi-annual crime report yesterday indicating that the crime rate for Florida was down except for a few types of violent crimes such as murder. In the Tampa Bay area which includes Clearwater, Largo and St. Petersburg the crime rate declined even as it rose in other parts of the state.
However, as Mark Twain once noted there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Though Twain gave credit to British Prime Minister Disraeli for coming up with the ubiquitous phrase, it was this quote from Twain’s Autobiography, that made the phase popular:
“Figures often beguile me,” he wrote, “particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'”
…numbers reflect the crimes reported by the local agencies (primarily Sheriff Offices and Police Departments) to FDLE. The UCR does not include all offenses reported to the police, but is limited to a well-defined list of reportable offenses… a number of factors influence the reporting of offense incidents to local agencies. For example, some communities are more likely to report a crime to the police than others are. Other factors may include local report-writing policy, manpower allocations, training received by officers on report writing… As you can see, there are many reasons for variability in reporting between jurisdictions, counties and even states.
Again, UCR is not reporting total crime, but, rather, a select list of crimes reported to the police.
Also, the FDLE notes that some crimes are no longer even reported. Clearly, this was done to drive down the crime numbers. The Orlando Sentinel analyzed the dubiousness of the FDLE statistics as follows:
Some of the percentages in smaller municipalities are inflated by relatively low crime rates such as the city of Windermere, for example, saw a 550-percent increase in reported offenses — 26 in the first half of 2012, up from four. Most were thefts.
Ouch! Well if nothing else at least we don’t live in that criminal hell hole of Windermere.
But let’s assume that FDLE is correct that crime is going down, then why are the jails filled to the brink in Tampa Bay with ever higher rates of arrests? So when reading the FDLE crime statistics keep in mind the recent study by the Pew Public Safety Performance Project showing that the prison and criminal justice system has failed to deter crime in Tampa Bay, Florida. And if you’ve been charged with a crime in Tampa Bay and don’t want to be another FDLE statistic contact a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney.