- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - There was a significant increase in murders, rapes and motor vehicle thefts in Florida last year, according to crime statistics released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Friday.

There were 1,040 murders in Florida last year, up from 984 the year before. That includes 767 murders involving guns, an increase of 11.2 percent. That’s the most murders in Florida since 2008, when FDLE reported 1,168.

There were also 7,537 reported rapes in Florida, an increase of 6.1 percent over 2014. Aggravated assaults increased by 3.9 percent, from 58,271 to 60,539, and motor vehicle thefts jumped by 12.4 percent from 36,111 to 40,478.

But Gov. Rick Scott and other state officials chose to ignore the fact that the worst crimes were on the rise, instead choosing to point out that the overall number of crimes dropped by 1.6 percent, largely based on a nearly 10 percent decrease in burglaries.

“Florida’s crime rate continues to drop thanks to the hard work and dedication of our brave law enforcement officers. We are committed to building safer communities and want Florida to be the safest and best place in the nation to live, work and raise a family,” Scott said in a press release.

Florida’s crime rate adjusted by population also fell to the lowest it’s been since the state began keeping records in 1971. In 2015, there were 3,353 crimes per 100,000 residents, or a decrease of 3.1 percent from 2014 when there were 3,451 crimes per 100,000 residents.

The number of robberies dropped by 2.2 percent and larcenies decreased by 1.3 percent.

Scott wasn’t the only official to praise the data despite the noticeable increase in violent crime.

“I cannot express the extent of my gratitude to each and every law enforcement officer in our state for their selfless commitment to the safety of Floridians and our great prosecutors who work to keep the worst of the worst behind bars,” Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a press release issued by Scott’s office.

In a separate press release, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said, “The men and women who put on their uniforms each day, unsure of their fate as they courageously pursue their mission to keep us safe, deserve our deepest gratitude.”


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