Gainesville commissioners ignore data while declaring dual crises

GPD Chief Lonnie Scott presents crime data to the Gainesville City Commission on February 2, 2023



In Thursday’s Gainesville City Commission Meeting, the Gainesville Police Department (GPD) reported its final crime statistics for 2022. When we published our Jail booking log summary (part 1 and part 2), GPD crime statistics were only available through the third quarter of 2022. Before citizens were allowed to see this data, city commissioners had already declared a “traffic violence crisis,” and they declared a pre-planned “gun violence crisis” immediately after GPD Chief Lonnie Scott’s presentation. The numbers are getting worse, but they do not justify the declaration of dual crises.

The commissioners are just catching up to some old talking points and are probably fishing for more government grants (they just announced an $8 million federal grant to begin redesigning University Avenue). Once government bureaucrats discovered that they could destroy our way of life under the guise of a public health emergency, every leftist policy idea is now wrapped up in some kind of public health crisis. In March 2021, Time Magazine started the narrative for gun violence as a public health crisis, and it was picked up by NPR in April 2021. The CDC even got involved in May 2021, offering funding opportunities.

Surprisingly, the CDC’s first element in its approach is “providing data to inform action.” So what does GPD’s data show? Here is a copy of slide 3 from GPD’s presentation:

Several media outlets are echoing this information, saying that there was only a 0.56% increase in crime from 2021 to 2022. That doesn’t sound like a crisis, and the slide actually shows a 9.5% decrease in violent crime. FDLE announced in November that Florida’s overall index crime rate dropped by 8.3% between 2020 and 2021, while Alachua County’s index crime rate only dropped by 1.3% between those two years. Florida’s overall violent crime rate dropped by 3% between 2020 and 2021, while Alachua County’s increased by 8.7% before dropping by 9.5% between 2021 and 2022.

If we’re going to make decisions based on data, however, that data should be presented properly. The percentage in the “Grand Total” row on the GPD slide does not include all crimes. Simply adding the three crimes below that row (Burglary to Conveyance, Motorcycle Thefts, and Retail Theft), the change becomes a 3% increase, which still does not qualify as a crisis. The table also excludes many other crimes like battery, kidnapping, criminal mischief, trespassing, DUI, and others. We track 33 charges on the Jail Booking Log, compared to only 10 on GPD’s slide.

Note also that the “3-year Average” column uses 2020-2022, which is not the correct way to use a 3-year baseline. The average should be calculated with the previous three years and then compared with the most recent year. The table below rearranges GPD’s data, using a 2019-2021 3-year average, and shows the percentage change of 2022 crime compared to both 2021 and the 3-year average.

So compared to 2021, 2022 had a reduction in the four violent crimes tracked except for murders, which increased from 9 to 10. Compared to the 2019-2021 3-year average, things look a little worse, with increases in three of the four violent crimes despite an overall decrease of 1.7% (caused by a relatively large decrease in aggravated assault).

If the data doesn’t show overall crime is a crisis, surely the gun statistics must be dramatic. Here is GPD’s slide showing gun-related statistics.

2022 had double-digit percentage-point increases for stolen firearms, firearms seized/recovered, and shots fired, but the number of people shot or injured was down 7.8%. However, this slide does not show gang-related shootings. The detailed data we received through the third quarter showed 41 of 124 (33%) shootings were confirmed gang activity, up 58% from the same period in 2021. How does the gun violence data look if gang-related gun violence is removed? Could it be that Gainesville is facing a gang violence crisis rather than a gun violence crisis?

The other issue that has the city commission up in arms is the increasing number of traffic fatalities. Here are GPD’s slides related to traffic crashes.

Is an increase from 23 fatalities in 2021 to 24 fatalities in 2022 really a crisis? It could be argued that there was a big change after 2020. The 5-year average (2016-2020) was only 14.4 fatalities, then the number jumped to 23 in 2021–but there was no change to the roads that made them somehow less safe or necessitated the declaration of a crisis that will require millions of dollars to redesign the roads. Also, how does the increase in traffic fatalities relate to the increase in population or the increase in miles driven in Gainesville?

When the National Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) reports accident rates (fatalities or injured persons), they report the number of incidents per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, per 100,000 population, per 100,000 registered vehicles, and per 100,000 licensed drivers. It’s not surprising that the commissioners don’t control for these things. Their stated goal of zero fatalities shows their economic ignorance on cost-benefit analysis and that they’re not serious about public policy. They’re just activists who managed to get elected.

Neither of these issues is really a crisis compared to previous years, but the Gainesville City Commission unanimously declared both of them to be crises (traffic fatalities at the January 23 meeting and gun violence at the February 2 meeting). If they’re serious, they should add a dashboard to the city’s public website showing real-time data for both traffic fatalities and gun violence. We should see daily updates of the raw data rather than massaged, incomplete, and misleading presentations made months after the fact. Citizens should be able to track the progress (or lack of progress) from the city commissioners’ efforts in dealing with these crises so they can be held accountable if/when things don’t improve.

  • If Gainesville commissioners were really interested in fighting the imagined “gun violence crisis”, they would support the officers of GPD, pay them properly, reestablish the K-9 division that they caved over and fill the more than 90 vacancies on GPD.

  • They will never blame their own voters and most loyal districts for our REAL crises. Hence the term limits and state oversight, amen.

  • Two things happened during the 2014 year that greatly affected traffic enforcement efforts. 1) The city annexed most of the southwest area from 34th street, 20th ave to the interstate, including all of Butler plaza. 2) Michael Brown shooting initiated a department reorganization (due to officers decommitting to their careers) that included reducing the traffic unit officers from 8 or so to 3 or 4. Some retired, some transferred, some were deployed to patrol zones instead of working traffic. GPD has never recovered from this and currently has only 4 officers working in the traffic unit. However these 4 work mostly THI investigations and rarely find time to write tickets like in the old days. This is why traffic enforcement suffers and no one thinks there is a traffic unit. The city has 200,000 plus people with the 60,000+ not on the census (college students).

    • So, the city geniuses annexed the sprawling SWAG crime area — then reduced GPD enforcement over fake national BLM news?
      Thank you.

      • Yes and in a way, yes. SW 20th ave area is extremely active with multiple ghettos in it. Traffic crash numbers are huge, this area is like the Bermuda Triangle. After Michael Brown people who thought of becoming cops backed out. Many cops retired or quit due to the ongoing pressure from the seemingly never ending use of force incidents around the country. With patrol numbers dwindling to dangerous lows admin pulls from specialty units to supplement patrol function. Traffic unit got hit hard. In reality lots of cops said to themselves, “It ain’t gonna be me on the news” to which they become much less proactive. The folks who live in less prosperous areas loved this and saw it as an opportunity to do whatever they wanted, hence the increase in violent crime.

  • Harvey is still just a big drama queen on a power trip – same as ever. It won’t be long before he’s back to pounding on the table and shouting at people. The real crisis is a lack of leadership.

  • What? I’m so totally shocked to see that data is being muddied to deflect attention from the facts. I still think the homicides in 2020 were “10”. Great work on this article. Things aren’t great downtown methinks. “Transparency and accountability”? We get neither and we’ll like it (single finger salute).

  • Thanks Len – The City keeps making the case for “Constitutional Carry”. All the real data is at John Lott’s “crime research(dot)org”


  • As chicken little would say, “There is a crisis in Hoggtown!” 8 million dollars huh?
    They’ll blow it on everything but University Avenue. As for stats, you can have them say whatever you want. Been there, seen it.

  • The WHO’s planetary authority is very broad….they can call anything a health crisis and shut the planet down. The masked great reset Marxists’ job is to implement the master plan locally…Lucifer has many tentacles like a huge octopus wrapping it legs around the planet while Atlas holds the planet up on his shoulders. Do not comply with face masks, vaccination, or VAX passport…mark of the beast. The devil wants your soul…your freedom, your liberty, your inalienable rights, and your right to defend yourself.

    • Our CDC acquiesced to the WHO…
      …the article mentions CDC and May 2021 offering “funding opportunities”…connect the dots…follow the money.

  • Very well written article, clear, concise, to the point. No fluff or weird agenda here. Good ole fashioned fact driven article. Great job Len, I appreciate the honesty and clear insight into the real story…. Keep digging, maybe a Pulitzer here for you.
    Thank you.

  • Banning guns due to gun violence is like banning pencils due to spelling mistakes….

    • This is the real Mr. Peabody. Someone else used my name to post the above comment about pencils. Those bozos have no authority to ban anyone’s guns. They’re just dreaming (or delusional), if that’s what they think.

  • Is anyone really surprised? They ignore residents, they ignore auditors’ findings, they ignore the panhandlers and homeless problem, they ignore state officials – why should we expect otherwise.

  • Seems like a back door to taking away more law-abiding citizens rights.

    How about more strict punishment on gun crimes and violent crimes.


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