MANATEE -- The number of reported crimes in Manatee County climbed by 1.9 percent in the first six months of 2010, compared to the same period a year earlier. Homicides and other violent crime dropped by 31.1 percent, but that was offset by an almost 8 percent increase in property crimes.
There were a total of 7,636 crimes reported to county law enforcement agencies in January-June 2010, compared to 7,493 in the first half of 2009, according to statistics compiled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
There were 1,086 violent crimes -- defined as murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults -- in the first half of this year, compared to 1,424 a year earlier.
There were 6,550 property crimes -- burglaries, larcenies and motor vehicle thefts -- in the first half of this year, compared to 6,069 to same period in 2009.
The statistics for so-called "Part One crimes" break down further this way:
-- Murder, 4 in 2010, compared to 17 in 2009.-- Rape, 65 in 2010, 41 in 2009.-- Robbery, 262 in 2010, compared to 322 in 2009.-- Aggravated assault, 755 in 2010, compared to 1,044 in 2009.-- Burglary, 1,770 in 2010, compared to 1,535 in 2009.-- Larceny, 4,540 in 2010, compared to 4,229 in 2009.-- Motor vehicle theft, 240 in 2010, compared to 305 in 2009.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office, which investigates crimes in the unincorporated county and in the city of Anna Maria, reported a 0.9 increase in the number of crimes, while the police departments in Bradenton (0.8 percent), Bradenton Beach (72.1 percent) and Holmes Beach (31.3 percent) each reported decreases.
A notable exception was the Palmetto Police Department, which reported 486 total crimes in the first half of 2010, up from 322, or 50.9 percent, from the same period in 2009. That increase was driven largely by an almost 75 percent spike in the number of burglaries and larcenies, from 202 in 2009 to 353 this year.
The Longboat Key Police Department reported 19.6 percent increase in total crimes -- from 51 in the first half of 2009 to 61 during the same period this year.
In a news release, the sheriff's office said that despite the trends set in the first half of 2010, it projects that by the end of the year, statistics will show a decline in the number of crimes for the year in the parts of the county it covers.
"(I)-house statistics show a downward trend in crime for July, August and September that equates to an approximate 4 percent decrease in Part One Crimes for the year," the release states.
Bradenton Police Department Chief Michael Radzilowski said there has been a decrease in overall crime of 40 percent in the last seven years in the city.
While burglaries were an issue for the first six months of 2010, those numbers have since dropped, he said
"We had a severe problem the first six months of the year," said Radzilowsk,i noting there was an increase of about 30 burglary cases in the first six months. "We're now only 10 above where we were this time last year."
From January to October this year, there were 401 burglaries reported in the city of Bradenton. During the same time in 2009, there were 391 burglaries, Radzilowski said.
He attributed the stabilization to the department's street crimes unit and visibility of officers in the city, as well as police partnerships with neighborhoods.
In the past year, the department has expressed concern about the low number of officers to patrol neighborhoods despite the crime rate decreasing.Radzilowski said cuts have come from administration in order to keep officers in neighborhoods.
"We have tried to maintain boots on the ground," he said noting the department used to have 11 lieutenants and is now down to six.
"We're telling management they have to do more with less so it doesn't affect the number of officers on the street," Radzilowski said.
"We have a perception that we have a crime problem, but it's really been going in the opposite direction for several years," he said.