Florida Crime Rate Drops

The crime rate in Florida plunged last year by 4.3 percent, giving the state the lowest rate of crime since crime numbers began in 1971, but not everything is rosy. Juvenile drug arrests are up, and reports of domestic violence are flat.

By the time this half hour is over, 30 violent crimes will have been committed in Florida., and by the time this story is finished two non violent crimes will have occurred. Still, Floridians are safer today than this time last year.

The 1993 murder of a tourist sent Florida on a prison building binge and a crackdown on its image as a crime ridden state. Those on the frontline say it's paid off. Violent crime is down 38 percent in a decade.

Bob Crowder, Martin County Sheriff, says, "It's a small number of the population that is responsible for a large number of the crimes, so for every predator that we arrest the greater the impact is we have on reducing the crime rate."

One in five crimes reported involved domestic violence, but reports fell by nine-tenths of a percent. Gun crimes were down, the number of gun arrests up.

The state statistics may not be as rosy as they appear, that's because in popular Broward county, where nearly 10 percent of the state's population lives, the sheriff's office is under investigation for manipulating crime stats.

Some small cities in Broward are showing crime increases this year of 50 percent and more. Still, officials say the impact on state numbers will be minimal. When population is factored in 2003 was the 12 straight year that crime fell in the state.

While overall gun crime was down, murders with a firearm are up two percent. Drug arrests made up 14 percent of all arrests, and juveniles accounted for 19 percent of the major index crime arrests.