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Uptick In Local Crime Spurring Discussion Among County Commissioners

Thomas Hawk via Flickr

The Leon County Commission wants to hold a public workshop on the uptick of local crime later this fall. The announcement comes after the capital county logged the highest crime rate in the state for the third year running. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement analysis shows the bump is largely due to an increase in property theft. Commissioner John Dailey wants to understand the trend and reverse it.

“I think we should invite the author of the report from FDLE, the sheriffs obviously, the police chief, police chiefs from FSU, FAMU, TCC," Dailey said.

Leon has the highest number of infractions per 100,000 people, up 6.8%  since last year. But Nassau, Holmes and Suwannee Counties saw the largest proportional spikes in crime, increasing more than 22%.

Even as local crime rates are on the rise, the county commission wants to re-evaluate its civil citations. Some in local government think there’s room to improve and expand the diversion program.

"We have twenty-six different law enforcement agencies in Leon County and they don't do things the same way."

Leon County’s civil citation program helps first-time, low level offenders avoid a punishing criminal record. Possession of small amounts of pot, petty theft and disorderly conduct can warrant a ticket, instead of jail time. Proponents say the process reduces recidivism and cuts costs for local law enforcement. But Commissioner Bryan Desloge worries not all officers are implementing the program equally.

“I’d like to see if we could get some information brought back on how do we move forward collectively as a community? The reality is we have twenty-six different law enforcement agencies in Leon County, and they don’t do things the same way,” Desloge said.

The County Commission plans on having a public discussion of civil citations and pre-trial incarceration rates after the July 4th holiday.