Despite favorable crime stats, PSL chief takes the long view

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that incidents of seven categorized crimes are down in Port St. Lucie for the first half of 2017 over the same time last year. Chief John Bolduc is holding off on celebrating.

“That just covers January to June of 2017,” he said. “I don’t put a lot of stock in that, because it’s like getting a mid-semester review. We haven’t gotten the final exam yet.”

The state released the Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report toward the end of November. Florida’s crime volume dropped about 2 percent statewide the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of 2016. Bolduc said Port St. Lucie saw a larger drop in reported crimes from the first half of 2016 to the first half of 2017.

“The total number is down 9.7 percent,” he said.

But … “I don’t get too wrapped up in the six-month report,” Bolduc said. “I like to look at long-term trends.”

PSL held the state’s top spot for low crime rates in cities of 100,000 or more in the FDLE’s 2016 Unified Crime Report. According to that state report, overall crime dropped about 1 percent in Port St. Lucie from 2016 to 2017, although the population increased about 1.3 percent. From 2010 to 2016, the overall crime rate – the number of crimes compared to the number of people – in the city dropped almost 50 percent.

Bolduc noted that in 2014 the semi-annual crime report showed a 24-percent increase in the numbers of reported crimes over the same six-month period in 2013. The chief explained that one or a couple criminals going on sprees can skew the crime index – the total number of reported crimes – dramatically, and that’s what happened in 2014. When those criminals were caught and jailed, the total number of crimes dropped again even as the population grew, which affects the crime rate.

“Then we ended up on the total year with a 9.2 percent down,” the police chief said.

The city’s clearance rate – basically, the percentage of crimes a police department solves with charges leveled – was 42.1 percent for reported crimes in 2016. While that might not sound like much – less than half, because most criminals do multiple violations – the clearance rate essentially promises criminals are getting caught pretty quick. Bolduc said the Port St. Lucie Police Department can take only partial credit for the city’s low crime rates.

“Probably the biggest influence on crime rate in Port St. Lucie is the community has very high expectations and is very involved,” he said. “When they see somebody snooping around somebody’s house, we get a call.”

Not all communities are like that, the chief said.

The biggest crime problem in the city lately, Bolduc said, is automobile break-ins.

“Auto burglaries right now have been our boon,” the chief explained.

With the holiday shopping season in swing, Bolduc said citizens can and should protect themselves from these thieves. He said most are strictly opportunity criminals with two methods of operation. One is monitoring parking lots looking for signs of potential targets. The other is going through neighborhoods at night checking for open car doors.

“Don’t leave things visible in the car,” Bolduc said. He cited a borrowed slogan: “‘Remove it, lock it, or lose it.’”

When doing holiday shopping in multiple locations, place items into the trunk where you purchased them, not at the next shopping stop.

“It’s a bad idea to telegraph what’s in your car,” Bolduc said.

Better still, when shopping in multiple locations drop off items at home between stops if possible.

Bolduc said when buying online, it’s a good idea to have a trusted person pick up awaited delivered packages quickly if you can’t. “Try hard as you can not to have packages delivered and left in front of your door,” he said.

Most crime-prevention experts also recommend having wrapped holiday presents out of view of any windows. Additionally, experts recommend keeping packages for desirable items, such as tablet computers, out of easy view after gift exchanges. When recycling the packages, they recommend disassembling and placing them on the bottoms of bins.

Leave a Comment