MANATEE — The continued concern over the unprecedented number of homicides in Manatee so far in 2009 was met by statistics released by the FBI on Monday that in 2008 the county matched an overall decrease in violent crime nationwide.
Violent crime in Manatee in 2008 dropped by 1.3 percent, compared to the previous year. A similar drop was reported nationwide, according to the FBI report.
The FBI reported that violent crime in unincorporated Manatee dropped in every major category except robberies, which increased 10.9 percent. Nationwide, violent crime dropped 1.9 percent in 2008, with a 3.9 percent decrease in murders, a 2.5 percent decrease in aggravated assaults, a 1.6 percent decrease in rapes and a 0.7 percent decrease in robberies.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reported a 46 percent drop in murders, a 13.5 percent drop in rapes, and a 3.8 percent drop in aggravated assaults, according to the FBI report.
The report offered Manatee a respite from statistics that show that 2009 already has had a record number of homicides. There was a 600 percent increase in the number of homicides in the first six months of this year, compared to the same period in 2008.But overall, crime is down 14.6 percent, with a 0.2 percent decrease in violent crime.
“Crime is down significantly for us, so it is unfortunate we have the homicides and home invasions that we have had,” said Steube. “It has been a horrible year for homicides. The numbers fluctuate so much over the years, they are just so hard to predict.”
In Bradenton, the FBI reported violent crime dropped in the city by 8.8 percent in 2008. There were decreases in every category expect robberies, which increased by 2.5 percent. The city had a 60 percent decrease in murders, a 36.8 percent decrease in rapes and an 11.7 percent decrease in aggravated assaults, the FBI reported.
Bradenton Chief Michael Radzilowski said so far in 2009, violent crime remains down, though the four homicides in the city is double the number of slayings in 2008.
“We have our problem areas, mostly in West Bradenton and on 14th Street West, where violent crime is up, even as crime throughout the city is down,” said Radzilowski. “It is the drugs, the domestics and the fights that are really running our workload up.”