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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Three homicides occurred in Alachua County in 2008, and police predict that the ailing economy will cause the number to rise.

The projected crime increase combined with budget cuts might force the sheriff's office to do more with less, according to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office spokesman Steve Maynard.

He added that most of the Alachua County homicides last year were drug related.

"When income goes down and jobs are lost, people start to get desperate," Maynard said. "We expect to see an increase of theft, burglary, robbery and homicides."

With everyone trying to do as much as they can to pinch pennies, the Alachua County Commission might cut law enforcement's budget this year, Maynard said.

"There is going to be a breaking point and we don't want it to be the service provided to Alachua County residents," he said.

Maynard said if he were a civilian, he would want there to be less funding for county projects and more funding for safety and law enforcement.

"My personal protection is up there with food and sleep," he said. "I do not want to be burglarized, raped or murdered."

Lonn Lanza-Kaduce, academic chair of the UF criminology department, said that age may have a direct relationship to violent trends.

For example, a community with high numbers of retirees is unlikely to have much crime, but a community with many young adults is likely to have more crime.

In Gainesville, many people are young but educated, so homicide rates tend to be low.

Although the amount of crime is projected to rise, Lanza-Kaduce said that an improvement in Gainesville's Emergency Medical Service might keep down the number of homicides.

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"Alachua County may have higher violence than others, but that violence might not translate to homicides," he said in regards to the increase of technology and the availability of medicine.

But Lanza-Kaduce added that the economic downturn might have an effect on a county even as insulated as Alachua.

He added that a lot of homicides grow out of domestic violence. Job loss constraints and consumption of drugs and alcohol are also contributing factors.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Web site, there were 581 homicides in Florida in 2008.

In Alachua County, there were 6,200 crimes reported for 2008. Of those, 66 were forcible rape, 151 were robbery, 750 were aggravated assault and 1,278 were burglary.

Alachua county homicide rates have been consistently low since 2000, the first year listed on the Web site.

There were six Alachua County homicides in 2004, the year in which the number was highest. Miami-Dade county led the state in homicides for 2008 with 122. Orange County followed it with 64, according to the Web site.

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