Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Sheriff John Mina
The Orange County Sheriff's Office saw an uptick in homicides in 2018, while overall crime is on the decline.
Sheriff John Mina presented the statistics Tuesday morning at the Orange County Commission budget work sessions. Mina, presenting 2018 figures, remarked crime has seen a 7 percent drop from 28,403 offenses in 2017 to 26,277 in 2018.
The presentation showed murders, however, have risen from 42 in 2017 to 55 in 2018. Similarly, forcible sex offenses have gone up from 658 in 2017 to 715 in 2018.
Commissioner Victoria Siplin noted the rise in serious crimes, which hadn't been specifically mentioned in Mina's presentation, and asked Mina if the budget proposal took into account ways to mitigate the rise.
"Of course, you mentioned that we were down by 7 percent but what I realized is at the top some of our more serious or more violent crimes, such as murder, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assaults, were increasing," Siplin said. "In your budget, I wanted to know are there any programs that you have in place or are thinking about doing to curb some of these numbers that we see that are disheartening?"
Mina told commissioners nothing is specifically planned in the budget, but officers will continue to focus on "some of our more challenging areas," sighting recent police work done in Pine Hills and Holden Heights.
Proposals for the upcoming fiscal year include $267 million in operating funds for the Orange County Sheriff's Office, an increase of $16 million from last year, according to county officials. Authorities plan to use some of the funds toward hiring more staff, including 52 deputies and 17 emergency communication specialists.
Mayor Jerry Demings, former Orange County Sheriff, asked about this year's crime numbers, which Mina said also shows a slight increase in homicides so far.
But it's "almost impossible" to say homicides happen at a certain place, certain time, or certain day, Mina said.
"Homicide is — as you know — one of those hard crimes to predict, to prevent," Mina said. "The homicides we have are spread out throughout the county. Many of the homicides that we have happen behind closed doors, out of sight of the deputies."
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