Crime cases rose 9.4 percent at the St. Cloud Police Department in 2018, according to a new statewide report released Monday.
The crime hike comes less than four months after the city promoted itself as one of the top ten safest cities in Florida.
Meanwhile, crime is down 7.6 percent at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office and 13.3 percent at the Kissimmee Police Department, according to the 2018 Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Annual Uniform Crime Report (UCR).
The UCR calculates crime volume, or the number of crimes reported to or discovered by law enforcement, along with arrest totals each year. FDLE’s UCR provides standardized crime statistics based on data gathered by law enforcement agencies across Florida annually.
In St. Cloud, 742 crimes were reported in 2018, up from 678 the year before. Arrests in Osceola County’s smallest municipality shot up 10.3 percent in 2018, according to the report.
St. Cloud was designated the ninth safest city in Florida earlier this year by the National Council for Home Safety and Security - a trade association of licensed alarm installers and contractors whose stated goal is to further the industry.
The group’s 100 Safest Cities in Florida list used FDLE’s UCR data, but also adjusted measures based on population and the size of a city’s police force – something St. Cloud has struggled to expand in pace with rapid growth.
From 2010-17, St. Cloud added 13,440 residents – a 36 percent spike that made it the fastest growing city in a four-county region, according to last year’s U.S. Census Bureau data.
The city’s fire and police departments have struggled to keep up. Police Chief Pete Gauntlett told St. Cloud elected officials in March that closets now act as offices at the department.
Gauntlett said he’s worried about staffing issues too, noting SCPD will need to add over 170 sworn officers in the next decade to meet state and federal requirements.
A spokesperson for the department said “extensive growth” was to blame for the crime increase.
“The St. Cloud Police Department continues to increase its number of police officers on the force and actively recruits new police officers,” Sgt. Frankie De La Rosa wrote in an email Tuesday.
Apart from St. Cloud, the rest of Osceola County saw a 7.8 percent drop in crime in 2018 compared to 2017, according to FDLE statistics.
There were decreases in major crimes like murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft.
Forty-five fewer arrests were made across Osceola County in 2018 than in 2017, despite a population increase of nearly 15,000 new residents.
More people were arrested for drugs and DUIs in 2018, but fewer were charged with crimes like aggravated assault, embezzlement and prostitution.
Statewide, murder and rape cases were up, while other major crimes decreased. The overall crime rate in Florida dropped 7.4 percent in 2018 compared to 2017, the report stated.