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DeSantis Bases Claims On Florida Crime Totals On Unreliable Data

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has repeatedly accused Democrats of being soft on crime while misleadingly claiming that crime levels are at a 50-year low in his own state. “If you’re engaged in mob violence in Florida, you ain’t going to be treated like they do in Portland,” DeSantis told a police union. “In Florida, if you’re doing that, you’re not getting a slap on the wrist; you’re getting the inside of a jail cell.” In his new book, DeSantis calls Black Lives Matter “an ideological movement based on false premises about law enforcement.” He brags about cutting the movement to defund the police in Florida “off at the knees” by barring local governments from reallocating police funding. He rails against progressive prosecutors for “nullify[ing] laws they don’t like based on their personal conception of ‘social justice.’” He touted Florida as “proud to stand for law and order” in his State of the State address last month, saying, “We are tough on crime, and we support the men and women of law enforcement,. However it’s not clear that crime is lower in Florida than in some of the cities he has criticized, reports

In some Florida cities, the data shows murder rates are significantly higher than in blue cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Boston. Experts say there’s no evidence to support that some of DeSantis’s signature public safety policies, including doubling down on cash bail, are effective in reducing crime, and other DeSantis crime policies involve considerable trade-offs and uncertainties. As he preps a potential 2024 presidential run, DeSantis has eliminated permit requirements to carry a concealed weapon in Florida, where mass shootings have become more common than in any other state except California and gun deaths are on the rise. DeSantis’s claims about public safety in his state are based on a report by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that the state’s total crime fell more than 8 percent to a 50-year low in 2021, compared to an estimated 1 percent nationally. Neither of those figures is reliable, in part because of a shift in how the data was reported that year. Still, tapping into voters’ fears about crime might be an effective campaign strategy, especially in a Republican primary.


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