Orange County, FL, appears to be in the midst of a gang war that has caused the violent crime rate, particularly regarding homicides, to spike after years of decline. Per the Orlando Sentinel, Orange, Lake, Seminole and Osceola counties saw a combined 167 homicides in 2020, a 39% increase over 2019.
Orange County alone accounted for 66 of these homicides, a 22% increase over 2019. All told, Orange County saw 255 shootings with 79 victims in 2020, compared to 142 shootings with 47 victims in 2019.
Sign of the times
Law enforcement officials blame a combination of gang violence and the pandemic for this sharp upswing in violent local crime. Data from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office show that a majority of the homicides occurred in two areas of the county: Pine Hills and Holden Heights off South Orange Blossom Trail.
In response to the increased violence, Orange County established a Citizen’s Safety Task Force. Orlando’s Deputy Police Chief also announced that his department is partnering with both Orange County and the federal government to address the issue.
20 years of decreasing violent crime
Prior to last year, Florida’s state-wide violent crime rate decreased significantly. Statistics provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show that, between 1998 and 2018, Florida’s violent crime rate decreased by 56.6%. During the same period, Florida’s population rose by 38.9%.
Violent crimes include not only murder but also rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
In 1998, Florida saw 135,925 reported violent crimes consisting of 996 murders, 8,954 rapes, 36,130 robberies and 89,875 aggravated assaults.
In contrast, the state saw 81.896 reported violent crimes in 2918, consisting of 1,107 murders, 8,436 rapes, 16,862 robberies and 55,491 aggravated assaults.