FILE - Racial Injustice-Vandalized Mural Florida

This image released Saturday, June 27, 2020, by the Orlando, Fla., Police Department, shows anti-police slogans that were spray painted on a mural for Black Lives Matter painted on a road in Orlando, Fla. The mural, which was painted Friday with the red, black and green of the Pan-African flag, a symbol of Black pride with the giant slogan for Black Lives Matter, was vandalized hours after being painted, police in Florida said. 

(The Center Square) – The number of reported crimes declined by more than 14% in Florida in 2020, but instances violent crimes inched up by 2.3% with reported murders in the state at a 19-year high, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

According to FDLE’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released Monday, there were 1,285 murders in Florida in 2020, 165 more than last year and 178 more than 2018 – a 14.7% spike and the most since 1991 when 1,276 were recorded across the state.

Yet, despite a 0.4% increase in the violent crime rate, Florida’s overall crime rate declined by 15.7%, buoyed by an 18.5% drop in the state’s property crime rate, in 2020.

The report shows there were 76,523 fewer reported crimes statewide in 2020 compared to 2019, which the FDLE notes marks the 50th consecutive year that the number of reported crimes in the Sunshine State was lower than the previous year’s UCR.

“In Florida, we do not tolerate lawlessness, and this is evident as the overall crime rate in our state has now dropped for the 50th straight year,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody tweeted. “This amazing accomplishment would not be possible without the service and sacrifice of Florida’s brave LEOs.”

The FDLE defines “Index crimes” as murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft. It further breaks down “index crimes” into “violent crime” and “property crime” categories.

The 82,841 instances of “violent crime” in 2020 topped the previous year by 1,850 while the 381,864 instances of “property crime” last year was 17% below those reported in 2019.

According to the UCR, reported rapes (-9.3%), robberies (-17%), burglaries (-17.8%), larcenies (-18.5%) and motor vehicle theft (-2.5%) all declined in 2020 while murder spiked by 14.7% and aggravated assaults rose by 9.5% last year.

The 17% percent decline in property crimes, 2.3% increase in violent crimes gives the state an overall 14.1% decrease in reported crimes.

There were 78,373 fewer property crimes and 1,850 more violent crimes reported, which accounts for the overall decline of 76,523 reported crimes last year compared to 2019.

The UCR was established in 1971. Between 1980-90, it recorded more than 1,300 murders annually seven times, including 1,523 in 1981, when the state’s population was roughly half what it is now. That still stands as Florida’s most lethal year.

In Miami-Dade County, the overall crime rate was down 20.1%, but its 234 murders were 32 more than in 2019.

Broward County’s crime rate declined by 18.5% but its 149 murders in 2020 were 38 more than the previous year.

Orange County crime plummeted 20.4% with its 111 murders 20 more than 2019. Palm Beach County’s crime rate declined 11.4% with 89 murders, two more than 2019. Hillsborough County’s crime dropped 14.3% but its 81 murders were 15 more than 2019.

The UCR breaks down it murders by firearm (1,025 shot to death in 2020), knife (122), hand/feet (64) and “other” (74). Firearms were used in 79.77% of murders, an increase of 20% from 2019, prompting gun control advocates to cite Florida’s gun laws as contributing to the increase.

“Murders committed with a gun made up nearly 80% of the state’s total,” tweeted Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, linking to a news article.

An email from National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Deputy Director Camille Gallo blames congressional Democrats for “violent crime on the rise in Florida," not the state’s Republican governor or GOP-dominated Legislature.

“This comes as Democrats in Congress are still calling to defund or even abolish the police,” she writes.