The crime rate in Manatee County dropped by 6.9 percent in 2015, compared to 2014, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Friday.
Statistics in the 2015 Annual Uniform Crime Reports also show the rate dropped by 4.1 percent in Sarasota County, and 3.1 percent statewide.
“Florida’s crime rate continues to drop thanks to the hard work and dedication of our brave law enforcement officers,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement.
20 The number of murders in Manatee County in 2015
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The crime rate is based on the number of certain index crimes — murders, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts — and population. In Manatee, all categories of crime were down in 2015, except for murders (14 in 2014; 20 in 2015) and aggravated assaults.
In the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office jurisdiction, which includes the unincorporated county and the city of Anna Maria, the crime rate decreased by 8.6 percent, with murders and aggravated assaults being the only index crimes that saw an increase. The biggest drop in crime came in burglaries and larcenies.
“The common goal is to catch the bad guys,” Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube said. “I think it really is a testament to the men and women who are doing this. They know who the bad guys are and they are staying on them.”
Steube attributed the drop in burglaries to how the sheriff’s office puts resources into those areas where burglaries are occurring. The sheriff’s office is using crime analysis to try to forecast where burglaries may occur and then conducting surveillance in those areas.
The common goal is to catch the bad guys.
Manatee Sheriff Brad Steube
“All of this is working,” Steube said. “It keeps these bad guys in jail.”
A close relationship with the State Attorneys Office has also helped get repeat offenders in jail, the sheriff said. Sharing of information with other local agencies helps connect suspects to multiple similar crimes.
In Bradenton, the crime rate dropped by 1.7 percent.
But unlike in the rest of the county, the respective crime rates increased in Palmetto and Bradenton Beach.
In Palmetto, the crime rate increased 11.4 percent from 2014 to 2015, driven by an increase in burglaries and larcenies. Burglaries in Palmetto went from 90 in 2014 to 135 in 2015, while larcenies increased from 337 in 2014 to 377 in 2015.
“We think a lot of it was we have a lot of turnover in the department,” said Police Chief Scott Tyler. “Last year we were struggling with staffing and getting new officers trained.”
As a result, Tyler said burglary prevention efforts suffered.
“The ability to be proactive means everything when you are trying to combat burglaries,” Tyler said. “Although Walmart has driven our UCR in the past, Walmart was pretty consistent. There were slightly fewer shoplifting incidents at Walmart, so I can't blame it on them.”
With staffing back up, Tyler is confident he says that the crime will go down.
“We are very happy with our violent crime numbers,” Tyler said.
Bradenton Beach saw a 66.5 percent increase in the crime rate, with the biggest increase being larcenies, which went from 10 in 2014 to 29 in 2015.
In Holmes Beach, however, there was a 74.8 percent decrease in the crime rate. The most significant change was the reduction of larcenies, from 108 in 2014 to 64 in 2015.
“My officers are doing a great job with aggressive, proactive policing and that does wonders reducing crime,” Holmes Beach Chief of Police William Tokajer said. “It lets the public know we are there and forces the criminal elements elsewhere.”