A comprehensive report by the Leon County Sheriffs Office tited “Anatomy of a Homicide” reveals characteristics related to 103 murders in Leon County from 2015-2020.
One finding is consistent with national trends related to murders. The report notes that the majority of murders in Leon county during this period took place in predominately Black neighborhoods. These neighborhoods include Griffin Heights, Frenchtown, South City, Bond, Providence, Apalachee Ridge and the Jake Gaither community.
According to national police data, from 2019 to 2020, more than 85% of homicides in nine U.S. cities took place in predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
- The majority of homicides are committed with firearms, which in many cases are not legally owned.
- Black males used firearms in 79 percent of the homicides they committed, compared to white males at 45 percent. The firearm was not legally owned in at least 35 percent (27 of 78) of the cases where a firearm was used
- Many homicides are committed in the commission of another crime such as a robbery, drug deal, or theft. Thirty-three (33) percent of homicides were committed in conjunction with another crime (robbery, drug deal, theft, etc.).
- Victims and offenders are overwhelmingly young Black males. Eighty-one (81) of 108 total victims were Black which is over 4 times greater than the number of white victims (25). This is significantly disproportionate to the racial composition of Leon County which is approximately 61 percent white and 32 percent Black. Only two victims were of other races.
- Eighty-six (86) of 125 offenders were Black, while 21 were white. Race was unknown for 18 offenders. Black males represented 67 percent of offenders which is almost five (5) times more than white males.
- The majority of homicide offenders have previous criminal histories, often violent. Most had committed crimes as juveniles. Eighty-four (84) percent of offenders and 52 percent of victims had previous criminal charges, with 58 percent of offenders and 28 percent of victims having one (1) or more previous charges for a violent crime
- The majority of homicide offenders have been suspended or expelled from school. Eighty-five (85) percent had been suspended or expelled from school and 52 percent had attended an alternative school of some sort.
The report provides recommendations based on the findings. The report states that “we must approach this problem by first fully identifying and understanding how violence is impacting Leon County, and then agreeing on how we will remedy the issue together as a community.”
The reports notes that this is not a problem that can be solved by law enforcement alone.
Next steps include:
- Fully define and understand the problem by improving data collection analysis capabilities. Data is needed to effectively analyze the lifecycle of a homicide case and maintained in multiple systems.
- Develop a plan to address the problem by designating a working group or committee to lead the effort to develop specific goals and strategies with a timeline for completion. Identify and engage those determined to be most at risk and provide targeted services to the identified individuals.
- Implement strategies and monitor results through data collection and analysis. Results must be reported and evaluated on a regular basis.