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Leon County's Crime Rate Highest In The State, But Numbers For 2016 So Far Show Promise


Leon County’s per-capita crime rate for 2015 is the highest in the state once again. The issue is playing into the local election cycle as law enforcement and candidates grapple with how to address it.


When it comes to crime in Tallahassee, TPD Chief Mike DeLeo says his agency watches indicators such as sexual assault and aggravated assaults to measure, as he puts it, “what’s going on in the streets”.

“Some of those are domestic related, unfortunately for us, seem to be stranger related. Parking lot encounters, things like that," DeLeo told the city commission last month.

He says a spike in reported rapes could be due to changes in how such cases are reported, but he also notes Tallahassee is home to a large, college-aged population. Leon County’s overall crime rate topped the state this past year.

Drivers include an increase in aggravated assault, sexual assault and robberies. But Tallahassee safety director Cynthia Barber recently told the city commission some of those numbers are down in the first quarter of 2016.

“The aggravated assault area, you’ll notice a decrease there. Also a significant decrease in the sex-crime area. But you’ll also notice an increase in the property crime area. That’s how we look right now.”

Property crimes statewide are down. City and county officers have grappled with how to address the crime rate. It’s also at the center of the county’s sheriff’s race—with candidates such as Walt McNeil proposing ways to address the issue.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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