Fact check: Does Jacksonville have a higher murder rate than San Francisco?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville was name-dropped during the DeSantis-Newsom debate Thursday night on FOX News, and it wasn’t in a positive context.


California Governor Gavin Newsom called out the Bold City when pressed on California crime rates by moderator Sean Hannity.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

“The murder rate in Jacksonville, Florida compared to San Francisco is 126 percent higher,” said Newsom.

According to current 2023 populations and data from JSO and the San Francisco Police Department, Newsom is right… In part.

Jacksonville’s murder rate this year is 11.94 per 100,000, compared to San Francisco’s rate of 7.13 per 100,000.

That’s 67 percent higher, not 126 percent higher like Newsom claimed.

Related Story: DeSantis and Newsom lob insults and talk some policy in a faceoff between two White House aspirants

“Murders in Jacksonville have been a problem for decades. This is not something new,” said UNF political science professor Dr. Michael Binder.

Binder pointed out neither city ranks among the most murderous in the country, nor are they among the most violent.

According to an analysis by World Population Review, three California cities ranked among the top 20 most violent cities in the country this year, though San Francisco was not among them.

Florida had no cities that made the list.

Binder cautioned any time the ‘dangerous city’ moniker is used, it should include an asterisk.

“The vast majority of these crimes are not the types of crimes that people sitting here watching TV are worried about. The random stranger on the street that gets attacked and murdered by some hoodlum. Most of these are gang related,” said Binder.

Read: ‘Don’t ... blame me for some madman:’ DeSantis, man clash over Jacksonville Dollar General shooting

In terms of violent crime rates Jacksonville, San Francisco and their metropolitan areas are virtually identical.

Both hover around 470 per 100,000 based on the most recent FBI stats from 2019.

Action News Jax Law and Safety Expert Dale Carson explained size could play a factor in terms of perception, as Jacksonville is nearly 20 times as large as San Francisco, despite the cities have similar populations.

“The city is such a smaller area, it’s going to seem like there’s more crime,” said Carson.

On the base claim that California has more violent crime than Florida overall, the most recent FBI stats from 2022 would suggest that is true, but there are some caveats.

According to those statistics, California’s violent crime rate is 499.5 per 100,000, while Florida’s is nearly half that at 258.9 per 100,000.

Read: Gov. DeSantis remains optimistic about Presidential aspirations, despite Trump’s large lead in polls

Florida also had a slightly lower murder rate at 5 per 100,000 compared to California’s 5.7 per 100,000.

The 2022 data for both states is incomplete, but more than half of Florida law enforcement agencies have not yet reported their numbers, while just three percent of California agencies haven’t reported.

According to the FBI’s stats for 2020, which is a much more complete set of data, California’s violent crime rate ranked slightly higher at 442 per 100,000 compared to Florida’s 431.9 per 100,000.

That year Florida had a higher murder rate of 7.4 per 100,000 compared to California’s rate of 5.6 per 100,000.

CDC data also suggests Florida’s homicide rate was higher than California’s in 2021.

Regardless of how you read the stats, Carson argued at the end of the day, a governor has little ability to directly impact any of these metrics in a meaningful way.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

“They’re trying to present their state, their action as a functionary in the state, as somehow having an effect on local law enforcement and on local conditions, which in reality, the governor’s involvement in those particular matters is not all that broad,” said Carson.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.

Comments on this article