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Survey: 99% of Residents Believe Crime is Getting Worse, Despite Sheriff's Claim

HERNANDO COUNTY – We are just four months away from the Primary Election which will determine the outcome of the next Sheriff of Hernando County. The incumbent Sheriff Al Nienhuis will go head-to-head with his opponent Joe Puglia, who says the county deserves better.

Yesterday, Nienhuis utilized the agency's Facebook page to claim crime in Hernando County has dramatically declined under his leadership. The post reads: Did you know that since 2011, the population of Hernando County has increased by almost 40,000, while during the same time frame, crime rates have continually decreased? Nienhuis then provides graphs showing a reduction in the rate of burglaries since 2011. Another graph shows the increase in population over the same period of time. However, residents we spoke to have a difference of opinion when it comes to the rate of crime in Hernando County.

After receiving numerous messages from local residents about Nienhuis' claims, R News decided to take a poll to find out what people really think about crime in Hernando County – and the results were staggering.

R News asked if they believed Nienhuis' claims or if they thought he was being dishonest. Out of 712 people who responded, a whopping 99% (696) do not believe there has been a reduction in crime under Nienhuis' watch. Only 16 people agreed with Nienhuis. (Surveys were conducted on the R News Plus Facebook community group and Drain Hernando County Swamp community group).

Here is a sampling of those who commented:

Heather Lynn – "I just saw that post and my first thought was 'no way. That's total bs'. Not only that, but the data he shared was specific to burglaries, which I also don't believe."

Steven Koehler Jr. – "Crime has risen exponentially... where are they getting their data. They need to link us."

Valerie Tabor Brown – "Apparently, this Sheriff is using the same data accountant that Biden uses for his/our economy."

Candidate for Sheriff Joe Puglia also disagrees and says, "As it relates to the Sheriff's 'fuzzy math' in the decline of crime, watch out! If you think traffic is bad now, wait until the entire country moves to the only county with a declining crime rate. It's just not true. I am very familiar with his tracking model for crime. It was developed by Jack Maple of the NYPD. As with any system, garbage in, garbage out. It's frankly not accurate."

The FBI stopped collecting summary crime data in 2020 but the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) uses its Uniform Crime Report – Incident-Based Reporting to gather quarterly data.

Comparing the last three quarters of 2023 to four quarters of 2022, Hernando is expected to see an increase in violent crime which could surpass 560 incidents. Property crime is expected to stay the same at around 616 incidents. The category listed as "other crimes" will surpass last year's rate of nearly 1200 incidents. If this trend continues, the 2024 report should show another spike in crime.

According to the website Bestplaces.net, Hernando County has a higher rate of both violent and property crime compared to the national average. The violent crime rate in Hernando, FL County is 29, while the US average is 22.7. Similarly, the property crime rate in Hernando County is 46.4, more than 10 points higher than the US average of 35.4.

 

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