Overall, the number of reported crimes in unincorporated Pasco County in 2012 fell to 10.1 percent below the overall number of crimes reported the previous year, according to information the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office released Wednesday.
The agency recorded 12,201 crimes reported in its jurisdiction in 2012. That’s 1,369 fewer crimes than were reported in 2011. The Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction does not include municipalities like New Port Richey.
The statistics the agency released Wednesday are called Uniform Crime Reports and will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for verification, and then to the FBI.
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a press conference that he wanted to point out that the stats were a good snapshot of what was going on in Pasco County, but it’s not the “be-all, end-all.”
“The biggest things that we’re happy about are the fact that our arrests have gone up,” Nocco said. “Our clearance rates are high. Reported crime has gone down, and our arrests are high, so that’s actually showing we are being very proactive out there.”
Here’s a look at some of the agency’s statistics:
- The overall number of robberies reported in 2012 fell 8.8 percent below the overall number of robberies reported the previous year.
- The overall number of burglaries reported in 2012 fell 12.3 percent below the overall number of robberies reported the previous year.
- The overall number of larcenies reported in 2012 dropped 12.4 percent belowthe overall number of robberies reported the previous year.
- The overall number of domestic violence incidents reported in 2012 fell 2.2 percentbelow the number reported the previous year.
- The overall number of murders reported in 2012 stood at 11, which is the same number reported the year before. Firearm murders, which are included in that number, rose to eight in 2012 from six the year before.
- The overall number of aggravated assaults reported in 2012 rose by 4.7 percent above the number of incidents reported in 2011.
Nocco said that his agency is all about the process it uses to address crime. He touted his Intelligence Led Policing strategy.
Intelligence-Led Policing is a broad strategy that focuses on analysis and allocating resources to high-crime areas.
Nocco introduced Intelligence-Led Policing at the agency in 2011.
Lt. Brian Prescott heads up the Sheriff’s Office’s ILP division. He said in a press release that “Seeing the drop in robberies and burglaries is personally satisfying for me. We started ILP as a means to catch more criminals and ultimately prevent crime from happening. These numbers reflect our success.”
At the press conference, Prescott highlighted that the Sheriff’s Office has been targeting high crime areas. He said that’s the reason the agency has seen a “dramatic reduction” in patrol suppressible crime.
The areas comprise 2.4 percent of Pasco, he said, but he declined to give out details on where exactly those areas are. He mentioned there was one in each of the agency’s districts.
The number of forcible sex offenses in this year’s stats shows an increase of 38.2 percent above last year’s numbers. That category includes rape, forcible fondling and forcible sodomy offenses.
However, Nocco says he attributes the number to a change in reporting of sex crimes. The agency expanded recently the classifications of sex crimes it reports in its UCRs. The 2012 stats includes 17 offense subcategories of sex offenses that the agency didn't include in previous years.
“Its not that it automatically spiked,” Nocco said. “It’s how we reported it, which shows a spike.”
Before 2012, the classifications the Sheriff’s Office used to report those crimes were more limited. They changed their reporting method after talking to the Jacksonville police.
Nocco said that “when these crimes occur, they are absolutely horrendous” and that his agency does everything it can to arrest and seek prosecution for offenders. He noted that in the majority of sex offense cases, the suspect is usually known to the victim.
Nocco said the overall statistics show the agency is heading in the right direction.
“But we realize there’s never a pinnacle,” he said. “We’re always going to be climbing, and getting better."