Osceola County saw a more than a 2 percent decrease in crime reporting in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The 2019 numbers from the FDLE Uniform Crime Report were compared to the 2018 statistics, which resulted in a 2.2 decrease.
Of the three law enforcement agencies in Osceola County, the Sheriff’s Office led the pack with a 4 percent decrease in crime reporting. The St. Cloud Police Department followed with a 2.8 percent drop. But the Kissimmee Police Department saw a 3.1 percent spike, according to the report.
“Overall violent crime has been reduced, burglaries and property related crimes have also seen a reduction,” said Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Kevin McGinley.
In the crime clearance rate, the Sheriff’s Office led again with 33 percent; St. Cloud Police Department was second with 27.5 percent and KPD rounded it out with 19.6 percent.
“Awareness and community engagement has attributed to this success,” McGinley said, adding that it also was, “proactive work from patrol and CID (criminal investigation department) personal working together, along with a culture of teamwork being bred within the organization.”
Kissimmee Police Department spokeswoman Samantha Scarp noted that the agency had a significant double digit decrease in crime in 2017 and 2018.
“Any increase in crime was not favorable, but was not surprising either,” she said. Crime eventually levels out.”
Kissimmee police officials attributed the 2019 crime report increase to unlocked vehicle burglaries and aggravated assaults (including domestics). The vehicle burglaries and aggravated assaults increased by 153.
“KPD is concerned with the increase because a majority of the vehicle burglaries could have been prevented,” Scarp said.
KPD said it has done several things to combat the increase in crimes to include: placing a variable message sign board at the entrances of numerous sub-divisions, reminding people to lock their doors, and initiated a Lock, Keep, Take program (lock your vehicle, keep your belongings safe, take your keys). The slogan was used on KPD’s social medium platforms and fliers that were distributed. KPD said it did two public service announcements encouraging people to lock their vehicles. Officers routinely checked vehicles while patrolling and notified owners when they found unlocked vehicles. A reminder to lock their vehicles will be included in an upcoming mailer to residents.
Officers also have proactively patrolled the area to locate criminals breaking into vehicles.
“The actions appeared to have had a positive effect because crime is down 3 percent through March,” Scarp said.
Countywide, murder calls fell by one from 15 to 14. Rape reports fell from 144 to 138. Robbery calls dropped from 154 to 145 and burglary reports decreased from 1,398 to 1,189.
However, aggravated assault calls jumped from 767 to 855, larceny increased from 5,106 to 5,412 calls and motor vehicle theft reports hiked from 389 to 445.
Last year, the crime rate in the state Florida fell by 6.3 percent, marking the 49th consecutive year the state has seen a drop in its crime rate. The report also shows a 4.6 percent decrease of total index crimes, with 26,128 fewer reported offenses compared to 2018.
FDLE began tracking crime statistics in 1971.