Elena Barrera, Tallahassee Democrat, October 19, 2023
A Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice study confirmed what many have unofficially concluded on their own: Tallahassee and Leon County is experiencing a spike in violent crime.
The college gathered cases from both the Tallahassee Police Department and the Leon County Sheriff’s Office June 4, 2019, to June 4, 2023 to determine the extent of gun violence, who’s involved in the violence and where it’s occurring.
Researchers scoured through 733 homicide and non-fatal shooting files, and these are key takeaways from their findings.
Homicide and firearm assault rates in Leon County steadily increased over the past 20 years surpassing the state and comparable counties’ averages.
In one decade, the homicide rate went from 5.46 in 2010 to 9.68 in 2020.
The rate reached around 168 incidents per 100,000 people — a spike that wasn’t seen in the state or Alachua County, the comparable population referenced in the study.
Gun violence impacted 1,255 victims and 414 known suspects were identified.
The age and racial demographics of both victims and suspects was disproportionately Black males in their late 20s.
The average age of a victim is roughly 28 years old, and the average age of a suspect is roughly 27 years old. Victims were 82% Black, and suspects were almost 84% Black.
The most common victim-suspect relationship was strangers, but homicides are “significantly more likely” to involve acquaintances than non-fatal assaults.
Roughly 45% of incidents involved strangers, 40% involved acquaintances, 10% involved intimate partners and 5% involved family members.
“A relatively large proportion of victims of both homicides and nonfatal assaults are suspected gang members,” the study says. “A smaller proportion of suspects were suspected gang members.”
Of the 733 homicide and non-fatal shooting cases, only 30% were solved.
“Cases in which victims cooperated with law enforcement were significantly more likely to be cleared than incidents without cooperation,” the study says.
Roughly 20% of victims didn’t cooperate with law enforcement.
Homicides are far more likely to be cleared than non-fatal shootings. Of the cleared incidents, almost 72% of homicides are solved and roughly 28% of non-fatal shootings are solved.
Based on the discoveries made, FSU’s researchers were also tasked with advising law enforcement agencies and city leaders about the best prevention and intervention strategies.
Researchers recommend using geographic-specific interventions methods because of the crime clusters in the four specific neighborhoods.
The “target population for intervention is primarily composed of young, black men between the ages of 18 and 24” based on demographic characteristics of victims and suspects.