According to national crime victim statistics recently released by the U.S. Department of Justice, Polk's violent crime rate dropped nearly 50% more than the national average during 1999.
Unincorporated Polk's violent crime rate dropped 15% in 1999, compared to a record 10.4% drop nationwide. The nation's 10.4% drop is the biggest decline ever recorded in the 26 years the Dept. of Justice has been completing the national survey - and Polk topped that by 50%. Crimes falling under the violent category are the most serious and traumatic for victims and their families: homicides, rapes, aggravated assaults, and robberies.
"I believe this is an indicator that Polk is taking giant strides in becoming one of the safest places to live in the nation," Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr. said. He also points to the fact that unincorporated Polk statistics reveal there were 5.7 reported violent crimes per 1,000 residents, while the national average was 32.8 violent crimes per 1,000 residents, according to the Dept. of Justice's survey of crime victims. Acknowledging that the national survey also included crimes that may not have been reported to police, Sheriff Crow believes that the statistics still indicate a wide gap in the number of violent crimes occurring across the nation compared to Polk County. (The national survey collects data on both "reported" and "unreported" crimes.)
The FBI also collects data on "reported' crimes and found that total crimes - violent and property crimes - dropped 7% nationwide in 1999, compared to Polk's total crime drop of 26%. Polk's crime rate is lower now than it was in the early 1970s.
"These statistics show two things - that crime in Polk County is lower now than it has been in decades, and crime in Polk County is dramatically lower than in many places across the nation," Crow said. "While there are some demographic trends that have helped, this incredible drop in crime is the result of a lot of hard work, proactive community policing, and keeping criminals in jail."
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A text only version of this release is also available.