Crime continues to decline in Sarasota County, Sheriff’s Office’s 2016 statistics show

The most serious types of incidents are down 7% from last year

Sheriff Tom Knight. Photo courtesy Sheriff’s Office

During a Dec. 13, 2016 presentation to introduce himself and his command staff to new County Commissioners Nancy Detert and Mike Moran, Sheriff Tom Knight reported that county crime had declined 49% since 2008. He was elected to his first term that year.

The trend continues, Knight affirmed this week, as his office released its statistics for 2016.

Major crimes known as Part I Offenses in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Index decreased more than 7% from 2015, a Sheriff’s Office news release said, and total offenses were down 6% year-over year.

(Among those classified as Part I Offenses are homicide, robbery, forcible rape, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.)

Incidents of violent crime dropped more than 9%, the release pointed out, and they remained low, with 451 reported cases countywide.

Burglaries declined more than 18%, the release added. However, the Sheriff’s Office did record an increase in motor vehicle thefts in 2016 compared to 2015: 201 in 2016; 177, in 2015, for an uptick of 13.56%, the data shows.

Conversely, the number of aggravated assaults was down 6.25% year-over-year: 330 in 2016 compared to 352 in 2015, according to the data.

The department handled five murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases this year — the same number as last year, the statistics show. In 2016, 29 forcible rape cases were reported, compared to 38 in 2015, for a drop of close to 24%.

Fraud cases also declined, the statistics show. In 2016, 612 were reported; in 2015, 579.

One significant rise was in the number of DUI arrests, the statistics indicate. In 2016, officers made 609 of them, compared to 444 DUI arrests in 2015, a 37.16% rise year-over-year.

In 2016, the Sheriff’s Office made a total of 8,607 arrests and responded to 93,992 calls for service; the latter figure is an increase of more than 5% compared to the previous year, the news release noted.

A chart compares non-violent crimes in 2015 and 2016. Image courtesy Sheriff’s Office

“This decrease in crime speaks volumes about our workforce as well as our partnerships within the community,” Knight said in the release. “We credit strong ties to our citizens and flexibility in staffing that allows immediate deployment of manpower to address crime issues in real-time,” he added. “Although crime is down, our calls for service continue to increase and are attributable to quality-of-life issues, including everyday neighborhood and noise complaints, requests to speak with a deputy and an array of other day-to-day concerns,” he noted in the release. “As a full-service agency, not only are we working to prevent victims, but we are also addressing mental health, addiction and other non-crime-related challenges.”

Since Knight took office in 2009, violent crime is down nearly 40%, and Part I Offenses are down nearly 47%, the release points out.

To see the full report, visit Under the “Public Interest” tab, click “Crime & Crash Statistics,” and then “Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics” for December 2016.