Wednesday, February 22, 2006

St Pete Murder Rate Up 57% in '05

2005 Year-end Crime Report for Saint Petersburg, FL

Photobucket - LibertyThis is not the kind of thing that the St. Pete Times ever reports. Because while there is good news, there is not-so-good news.

This post is mostly for my St. Pete, Florida friends. While I like some things about that city, there are certain problems. Crime is mostly out of control - or that is my (first amendment protected) opinion.

The data below is from the Saint Petersburg Police Department's submission to the 2005 FBI Uniform Crime Report. This is a PDF (You have been warned!) The FBI won't issue the nation-wide report on 2005 for some time. The FBI's 2004 UCR was issued in October of last year.

The good news is that violent crime in the city is down 2.8% over 2004. The bad news is that murder is up 57.9% over 2004. There were 30 murders in 2005, versus 19 in 2004.

Also, certain neighborhoods seem to be passed over completely by by that dip in violent crime.

The Midtown neighborhood (The Midtown area is located south of 2nd Avenue North and north of 30th Avenue South, west of 4th Street and east of 34th Street) is not enjoying that 2.8% decrease in violent crime. The Midtown stats are as follows (all percentages are as changes from 2004)
  • Homicide +120% (11 murders in 2005 compared to 5 in '04)
  • Forcible Sex +16.5%
  • Robbery +5.6%
  • Aggravated Assault +1.9%
Total violent crime is up 4% in Midtown.

The Childs Park neighborhood (1st to 22nd Avenues South from 34th to 49th Streets South) is also not doing well on the crime front.
  • Homicide +50% (3 murders in 2005 compared to 2 in '04)
  • Forcible Sex +37.5%
  • Robbery -2.2%
  • Aggravated Assault +1.0%
Total violent crime is up 2.9% in Childs Park.

(Forcible Sex is not a category reported in the FBI Uniform Crime Report. "In addition to Forcible Rape & Attempted Rape, Forcible Sex includes Forcible Sodomy and Fondling.")

Saint Petersburg has a problem. This problem will not be solved by tearing up more of the shoreline to build high-rise condos. The problem is a crime a problem. We know how to fight crime in this country. New York City under Mayor Giuliani went from being one of the most dangerous cities in America to being one of the safer cities.
In the early 1990s, the city routinely suffered over 2000 murders a year. Under Rudy Giuliani’s leadership, overall crime has been cut in half and murders have decreased by 70%. In fact, between 1993 and 1997, New York City accounted for 25% of the Nation’s total crime decline and the FBI recognized New York as the “Safest Large City in America.”
Chicago drove its murder rate down 25% in 2004 over 2003 levels and held them steady in 2005. Chicago did this without new gun control laws or even more police. They did it with better utilization of their officers - concentrating on the problems, and cutting down on adminstration.

Some will no doubt say that Guliani's tactics were racist, or that Chicago's targeting high-crime areas was too harsh. But who benefits most from a reduction in crime? Those people living the neighborhoods hit hardest by crime.

The police cannot solve this problem unless they get backing from the City Administration. And the current Saint Petersburg administration - in my First Amendment protected opinion - appears to be more interested sweeping the problems under the rug, so that developers can be convinced to build and investors can be convinced to buy million dollar condos. The truly sad thing is that the local paper seems bent on helping the adminstration sweep these problems under the rug.

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