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County Commissioners Dig Into Meaning And Cause Of Leon Crime Rates

Leon County Courthouse,
Michael Rivera via Wikimedia Commons

Leon County Commissioners are digging into local crime rates. The board held a workshop on the topic Tuesday.

It’s been widely reported that Leon County has topped the state for the most crime per capita. That’s according to what’s called the Uniform Crime Report. It’s a document compiled from statistics reported by each community. And Andrew Johnson, assistant to the county administrator, says it’s a good tool to help law enforcement track changes within its community from year to year. But he says it shouldn’t be used to compare one community to another.

The FBI, who again is the agency that administers the UCR program, actually cautions against this because it creates misleading perceptions based on an infinite number of factors that don’t take into regard an infinite number of different factors that make every community different,” Johnson says.

For example, Johnson says students and commuters coming into the community commit crime, but aren’t counted in the population. Another factor he says could impact the number is that Leon County residents may be more likely to report a crime than people living in another community.

“It’s fairly likely that if you get your car broken into and burglarized and damaged, you’re pretty likely to report that to the authorities. But in another city where you get your car broken into on a fairly regular basis, after the first, second, third, fourth time of reporting it, you may just stop reporting those types of crimes after a period of time,” Johnson says.

But Commissioner Bryan Desloge says even through the report isn’t a good tool for comparing communities, it’s clear crime in Leon County needs to be addressed. And he says part of that, is tracking it.

“Is there one of those measurements that we can take, or some weighted version, or pick one that’s the most representative and as a community say, you know what, from this point forward, every month, we’re going to publish that and every month we’re going to live and die by that and every month we’re going to talk about are we doing the right thing or are we not doing the right thing,” Desloge says.

Desloge says giving the public a good way to understand local crime numbers will help community members better understand how crime is impacted locally and whether community leaders are taking the right steps. Meanwhile commissioners discussed plans to address crime in Leon County, including an effort to improve infrastructure in what law enforcement calls “hot spot” neighborhoods.