Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Crime & Punishment

The Keynoter reports on crime statistics for 2007. These are my thoughts.

First, the Florida Keys aren't what anyone thinks of first when thinking of high crime areas. The four murders committed in Monroe County in 2007 (one in Key West) are the rare crime events here and are usually crimes of passion rather than the kinds of murders one hears about on the Miami news stations or reads about in the papers.

The overall crime rate, nationally, statewide, and in the Keys is trending down. Perhaps, as someone said in the Citizens Voice this morning, "the would-be criminals in our area can't afford the gas to go somewhere to rob (or murder) someone".

There is one curious fact in the Keynoter article, though, something that sent me searching for more information. It's a statistic called "clearance rate", defined as the percentage of cases closed either by arrest or by a determination that the criminal has been identified but cannot be charged. The Monroe County Sheriff's office reports a clearance rate of 24.6%, 2 points higher than the state average for Florida. The Key West Police Department clearance rate, by contrast, is only 6.3%. Unless this has somehow been mis-reported, it's seriously out of line with what happens elsewhere.

I am inquiring of the KWPD Public Information Officer for a statement on the clearance rate figure and will report that here if it's forthcoming.

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