Although violent crime has seen a decrease nationally, at least according to the most recent statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, murder remains a major problem. Indeed, the FBI said reports of murder and “non-negligent manslaughter” increased 1.5 percent from the first six months of 2016 to the same time period in 2017.
Pulse Nightclub Attack Causes Orlando Murder Rate to Soar
Crime statistics are always subject to anomalies. That is the case here in Orlando, where news headlines recently touted the city was now “ranked among top murder capitals in America.” But when you dig a bit deeper, that headline is somewhat misleading.
What happened was this. NeighborhoodScout, an online analytics database, recently published an article counting down the “top 30 cities in the U.S. with the highest murder rates.” The murder rate is essentially the number of murders committed per 1,000 residents. NeighborhoodScout examined FBI figures for cities with at least 25,000 people in compiling its top-30 ranking.
Orlando came in at number 20. The city reported 84 murders within a population of about 277,000, for a murder rate of 0.30. This was six times the national murder rate of 0.05. Orlando also exceeded the national averages for other violent crimes, including rape, robbery, and assault.
Now there is an important caveat to all this. The 84 murders cited by the NeighborhoodScout rankings were reported during 2016, the last full year for which reliable crime statistics are available. As everyone who lives in and around Orlando remembers, in June 2016 there was a mass shooting at the nightclub Pulse, which accounted for 49 of those 84 murders. Obviously, this was an anomalous event that exaggerated Orlando’s normal murder rate.
In fact, the Orlando Police Department reported far fewer homicides in 2017 than 2016, according to a January report in the Orlando Sentinel. OPD only had 25 active murder cases last year, of which 21 were solved. These 2017 murders included one other mass shooting, the killing of five people at a business on Forsyth Road.
It should also be noted that one other Florida city made the NeighborhoodScout top 30 list. Lake Worth, a city in Palm Beach County, with approximately 34,000 residents, was actually the 30th and final municipality to make the ranking. With just 10 murders in 2016, that was enough to give Lake Worth a murder rate of 0.26.
Protecting Your Right to a Vigorous Criminal Defense
Regardless of how you look at the numbers, even one murder is one too many. Unfortunately, media reporting of crime statistics often drives a frenzied rush to judgment whenever a person is accused of murder. But even a person accused of this most heinous of violent crimes still has constitutional rights. Remember, an accusation is not a conviction, and if you find yourself accused of murder, you have the right to mount a vigorous defense.
At the offices of Moses & Rooth, Attorneys at Law, we represent Orlando-area residents who are accused of all types of violent crimes, including murder, robbery, and assault. We fight to ensure that no person is sent to prison unless the prosecution proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Call us today at (407) 377-0150 if you have been charged with a crime and need immediate assistance.