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Holmes County overall crime index slightly up, HCSO sees decrease

For the 50th consecutive year, the number of crimes in Florida are lower than the previous year, according to the Annual Uniform Crime Report recently released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Statewide, there were 76,523 fewer reported crimes in 2020 than in 2019, a decline of about 14 percent.

FDLE calculates the crime index based on population and the total number of index crimes reported by law enforcement.

Here at home, Holmes County in 2019 saw a total crime index of 241. In 2020, that index increased to 248, an overall increase of about 2.9 percent.

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office saw a 7.4 percent decrease in the crime rate with the total crime index dropping from 230 in 2019 to 213 in 2020. HCSO answered more than 16,000 calls for service in 2020 and made 788 arrests, 227 of which were drug related.

The decrease in the agency’s crime rate has been an ongoing trend since Sheriff John Tate took office in 2017, having decreased a little over 40 percent from an index of 356 in 2017, compared to the index of 213 in the most recent report.

Sheriff John Tate says he credits the community and good law enforcement staff with the continuing overall decrease in the crime index for the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office.

“I am very proud of our agency and the men and women who work hard every day to reduce crime and make Holmes County a safer place to live,” said Sheriff Tate.


“Our great working relationship with the community is one of the resources which helps make this possible, as well as the success we’ve seen with our rehabilitative programs, which have been instrumental in helping transform lives and reducing recidivism. Going forward, we will continue to strive to make Holmes County a safe place to live and raise your family.”

The Bonifay Police Department’s total crime index was just 8 in 2019. That number rose to 35 in 2020, an increase of 337.5. While that seems an overwhelming increase, law enforcement officials say it is important to consider some commonsense factors.

“The reality is, when you’re a smaller agency, you’re dealing with smaller numbers,” said Bonifay Police Chief Chris Wells. “When you’re a small agency, just one or two offenses can drastically change your crime rate.”

Comparatively, Bonifay PD’s clearance rate has consecutively remained at 100 percent in recent years.

“We have a group of hard-working men and women, as well as a good relationship with the community,” said Chief Wells. “We do rely on the community to give us information, and that’s what has helped our clearance rate over the years, having our ear to the ground and listening to the people we serve.”

An effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to transition away from the UCR’s Summary Reporting System to the new National Incident Based Reporting System (NIMRS) is expected to modernize the crime reporting system, which was first established in 1929.

The FBI states the UCR Program retired the SRS and transitioned to a NIBRS-only data collection in January, a system officials state will provide a more comprehensive view of crime.

FDLE has also implemented the Florida Incident Based Reporting System, which will be used to compile crime information from Florida’s law enforcement agencies in line with NIBRS.

“NIBRS has more thorough data and will help law enforcement target their resources to fight crime effectively,” said the FBI in a press release. “For example, SRS only counts the most serious crime at one particular incident. So, if there is a robbery and a murder at the same time and place, SRS would only count the murder. NIBRS will count both the robbery and the murder and provide much more context, such as the day and time of the crime and the relationship of the victim to the offender.”

Unlike data reported through the UCR Program’s traditional Summary Reporting System (SRS) – an aggregate monthly tally of crimes – NIBRS goes into deeper detail because of its ability to provide circumstances and context for crimes like location, time of day, and whether the incident was cleared.

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