St. Augustine hits 25-year low crime rate

St. Augustine, FL. — St. Augustine Police Chief Barry Fox announced a near-record low crime rate to city commissioners last week.

Chief Fox told commissioners there was a 30% drop in crime over the past five years, even as the population in St. Augustine continues to grow.

In 2020, there were more than 15,000 residents in the small city. Mayor Tracy Upchurch said they welcome more than a million visitors every year.

“A visitor has a different kind of expectation when they’re on vacation. They want to enjoy themselves and park their cares,” he said.

Last year, the crime rate was about 3,733 crimes compared to 3,482 in 2020 which is a 6% drop.

The police chief said the low numbers are thanks to responsible neighbors who contribute to community policing.

During the summer, there were about two dozen protests in St. Augustine over George Floyd and Confederate statues downtown.

In the past few years, the department added a community outreach team which has connected more than 100 homeless individuals with resources.

Action News Jax’s Robert Grant asked Mayor Upchurch what more how would like to see done.

“A greater involvement of our police officers in the life and fabric of the community,” he said. “A police officer needs to be somebody we look to as a friend, as a neighbor, and not necessarily as a law enforcement figure.”

St. Augustine Police is the only law enforcement agency that is not accredited through the state. Mayor Upchurch said it’s something they are working on and hope to have in a few months.

The Mayor also said low crime rates could partially be a result of the pandemic keeping away tourists.

However, he added that it’s been a trend for the past several years.