HAINES CITY, Fla. – For the second year in a row, the crime rate in Haines City is the lowest it has been for as far back as records can be found and likely, the lowest ever.
After more than a 9% drop in 2019, the total crime rate in Haines City fell by a staggering 22% in 2020, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR). The UCR reflects statistics for seven crimes: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. Since Jim Elensky’s appointment to chief in 2017, the Haines City Police Department has used an intelligence-led policing model.
“These numbers continue to validate our approach of being proactive and not reactive,” Chief Elensky said. “We relentlessly work to identify hot spots for crime, implement the right suppression strategies, put our officers in the right positions and follow up continuously to ensure these strategies are working.”
The UCR numbers for 2020 reflect just 1,643 total crimes per 100,000 residents – the lowest where records were available. Available UCR data could only be obtained dating back to 1995, but crime rates have dropped significantly statewide since then. The best year on record had been 2019 when 2,107 crimes per 100,000 residents were reflected in the UCR.
“We’re grateful for our many partnerships and collaboration with other law enforcement entities such as Brian Haas and the State Attorney’s Office and Sheriff Grady Judd and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office,” Elensky added.
The total number of crimes fell by nearly 17% in 2020 despite a rise in population of almost 7%. With the city’s population increasing by more than 17% since 2016, the agency will continue to make additional staffing a priority based on the volume of calls and total service area.
“I want to personally thank City Manager Deric Feacher, Mayor Morris West and the entire City Commission for supporting our efforts for staff increases to keep up with the city’s rate of growth,” Elensky said. “They have played vital roles in our success with crime reduction. With the city growing at a record-breaking pace, adding more officers will be critically important to keep crime trending downward.”
Haines City’s violent crime rate fell by 6.4% while property crime rate decreased by 23.5%.
It is the second year in a row that property crime has decreased by more than 10%. In 2019 and 2020, Haines City was listed among the 50 safest cities in Florida by SafeWise.
“Good police work doesn’t just happen,” Chief Elensky said. “When we all work together, the community is safer. This is a testament to not only our hard-working men and women in uniform who keep this community safe, but our city as a whole. From our supportive city administration and commission to our residents and businesses, it’s been a collaborative effort in getting Haines City to where it is today. I couldn’t be more pleased.”