Crime is down 22%, and traffic fatalities are down 42%.
By Rick Staly
One of my priorities as your sheriff is to maintain an open, transparent, and accountable agency. In that regard, the latest annual statistics of the 2018 Uniform Crime Report are available to share with you.
In the jurisdiction of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, violent crimes are down 14.5% since 2017, property crimes have been reduced by 23%, and overall crime has decreased by 22% in 2018. We achieved a 34.92% reduction in burglary, a 35.87% decrease in auto theft, and an 87.5% reduction in robbery. The percentage of crimes cleared by the FCSO increased by 32% in 2018. Even with incredible growth, the crime rate in Flagler County is now the lowest it has been in 14 years.
Statewide, crime deceased by 8% in the latest available report. In Flagler County, crime decreased by almost three times that rate!
There are many proactive efforts that aided in this historic crime reduction. We re-engineered how we serve the county and have specific policing districts devoted to Palm Coast, the beaches and the west side. We capitalize on real time crime analytics to quickly identify and apprehend career criminals responsible for the majority of crime. We partner with citizens through guardianship policing and with our crime prevention programs and social media education efforts.
Traffic safety is a top priority. We created a five-deputy traffic unit to enhance traffic safety in the city of Palm Coast focused on high-crash areas, aggressive driving and citizen complaints and provided 7-day traffic enforcement. And, it worked! 2018 saw a 42% reduction in traffic fatalities.
Our Citizen Observer Patrol program also contributes to traffic safety by aiding our deputies. These trained volunteers assist with investigating minor crashes, traffic control at accidents, parades, funerals, and other special details. COP volunteers contributed 26,024 hours of service worth $642,532.56 to the taxpayers in 2018.
Over the last year, your Flagler County Sheriff’s Office became a 4 Star Accredited Law Enforcement Agency, achieving statewide accreditation in corrections for the first time in agency history and re-accreditation in law enforcement, communications, and from the National Institute of Ethics. This means your Sheriff’s Office standardizes its policies and operations to accepted best practices to optimize our professionalism, effectiveness and efficiency.
The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research currently forecasts that the city of Palm Coast’s population will almost double to 156,898 by 2040. I am grateful for the excellent partnership we have with our mayor and City Council and Flagler County Board of County Commissioners. Taxpayers work hard for their paychecks so we are doing everything we can to have the greatest impact with limited resources and provide the most and best public safety at the lowest possible cost.
In the city’s 2017 survey of Palm Coast residents, 90% of you said you felt safe in your neighborhood and 82% rated law enforcement services from the Sheriff’s Office as excellent or good. In your 2018 survey, 82% of you felt safe in your neighborhood and 82% felt that the Sheriff’s Office was doing an excellent or good job for you. While those numbers are consistent and impressive, our goal is to always do better.
Our FCSO Cmdr. David Williams is our liaison for law enforcement services with the city of Palm Coast. I encourage residents to get to know him. I hope you’ll join us for the 2019 Safety Expo on Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the European Village. This is an excellent opportunity for residents to learn about crime prevention and staying safe and getting to know your Sheriff’s Office.
I am especially proud of the outstanding job being done by the men and women serving you in the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and thank them for their hard work and dedication. As always, if there’s anything that I can ever do for you, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Together, we will keep building on the progress we have made keeping our community a great and safe place to live, work and play.
Rick Staly was elected sheriff of Flagler County in November 2016.