A comparison of Tallahassee public safety statistics before and after the COVID pandemic reveal that violent crime has increased while arrests are down.
In addition, data shows that traffic violations decreased during the COVID pandemic but has returned to pre-COVID levels.
Is there a connection between decreased traffic enforcement and the increase in violent crime and the decline in arrests?
First the numbers.
The chart below shows that before the onset of the COVID pandemic the number of violent crimes as reported by the City of Tallahassee had leveled off at approximately 1,300 incidents per year from 2017 to 2019.
However, the number of violent crime incidents increased in 2020 and again in 2021 for a cumulative increase of approximately 21%.
The chart below shows that before the onset of the COVID pandemic the number of annual arrests was 5,500 and 6,500 in 2017, 2018 & 2019.
During 2020 the number of arrests fell approximately 50% to 3,145. In 2021 the number of arrests increased slightly to 3,459, but are still significantly down from the pre-COVID numbers.
The chart below shows that before the onset of the COVID pandemic the number of traffic violations issued was between 9,500 and 11,500 in 2017, 2018 & 2019.
During 2020 the number of traffic violations fell approximately 50% to 5,663. In 2021 the number of traffic violations fell again to 5,352.
A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in July 2013 details a number of studies that link traffic enforcement `to reducing vehicle collisions and preventing non-traffic-related crime.
For example, one of the studies about traffic enforcement and crime was funded by the National Institute of Justice in Kansas City, Missouri (Sherman, Shaw, & Rogan, (1995).
The Kansas City Gun Experiment was designed to evaluate a law enforcement strategy to reduce gun violence, drive by shootings, and homicides in a patrol beat where the homicide rate was 20 times higher than the national average. For 29 weeks, from July 7, 1992, to January 27, 1993, the Kansas City Police Department officers assigned to the project
focused on gun detection through aggressive patrol, primarily vehicle stops.
The results of the study indicted that gun seizures by police in the target area increased by more than 65 percent, while gun crimes declined in the target area by 49 percent. Also, drive-by shootings dropped from 7 to 1 in the target area, doubled from 6 to 12 in the
More recently a report by the Manhattan Institute in 2021 related to law enforcement policy in New York City concluded that “experience during the pandemic has revealed that removing police from traffic enforcement leads to more dangerous streets, more disorder, and more crime.”
These findings raise several questions related to Tallahassee.
Why is traffic enforcement down in Tallahassee? Is it a manpower issue or a strategy change?
Also, is the reduction in traffic enforcement related to the increase in violent crime?