Orlando police officers debunk false danger ranking
While Orlando may have been ranked as Florida's second-most dangerous city by Home Security Shield, some UCF students and Orlando police officers have other opinions on the safety of the City Beautiful.
According to the most recent Uniform Crime Report from the Orlando Police Department, several crimes are actually on the decline.
This discrepancy is most likely due to the fact that Home Security Shield created its list using the FBI Uniform Crime Report from 2012. It used property crime and violent crime to rank Florida cities.
According to the list — with Orlando's population of 246,513 — 10.34 violent crimes occur per 1,000 residents, and 67.85 property crimes occur per 1,000 residents.
Adding those up, the list reports that 78.19 crimes are reported per 1,000 residents and states that Orlando citizens have a one-in-13 chance of being a victim of a crime.
The list goes on to state that when only taking violent crime into account, Orlando ranks as the 10th-most dangerous city, as opposed to the second.
While this ranking may look legitimate, Orlando law-enforcement officers are quick to debunk the list as simple advertising by Home Security Shield, a website that sells home-security systems.
"The advertising clearly is from a home-security company looking to sell a product. Unfortunately, they did not consider the fact that our residents are too wise to fall for believing a skewed statistical ad," said Sgt. Lovetta Quinn-Henry, spokeswoman for the Orlando Police Department, in an email. "The FBI did not call Orlando the second-most dangerous city; the home-security company created their own outcomes to obviously increase their sales. It's disappointing they used data from 2012 and mixed the property crimes and violent crimes together based on per 1,000 residents, which slant the outcomes."
Home Security Shield could not be reached as to why it chose to lump both crimes together, and the website's news blog where these lists are found now displays a disclaimer that states, "These numbers should not be used for any legal or educational purpose and are meant to be solely informative."
Downtown Orlando recently made headlines in August after an altercation with a police officer turned into a deadly shooting outside of Vixen Bar on Orange Avenue, resulting in the death of a female bystander.
According to a Uniform Crime Report from the Orlando Police Department comparing 2013 and 2014 crime statistics from Jan. 1 to Sept. 23, violent crimes, such as both aggravated assault and simple assault, are down roughly 3.14 percent.
For example, aggravated assault has decreased by 7.03 percent, burglary by .12 percent, motor vehicle theft by 10.58 percent, simple assault by 7.36 percent and drug offenses by 14.91 percent.
Other crimes, however, have statistically increased. Forcible sexual offenses have increased by 6.03 percent, robberies by 8.64 percent and larceny/thefts by 1.31 percent.
For UCF students going downtown, some do not see traversing Orange Avenue or Church Street as particularly dangerous endeavors.
Steven Crihfield goes downtown roughly once per month and said he has never had any problems with violence.
"As someone who goes to Kontrol (The Beacham on Tuesdays) quite often, I have never been harassed," Crihfield said. "[The weekend is] packed, so you have the safety of others. I've seen some fights on the street, but that's just some drunk dudes who were having complications."
Other Knights, however, don't feel as safe among the twinkling lights and stumbling students.
Laura Van der Water, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, goes downtown rarely — if ever — thanks to stories she's heard form her father, who works as a police officer with Orange County.
"When they all leave at 2 a.m. when the clubs close, that's when stuff happens," Van der Wster said. "Stuff happens. People can get shot. It's happened downtown before. ... [I tend to avoid them] because I know about it more."
But for would-be downtown patrons, Quinn-Henry speaks of not only a lack of violence, but a reduction in it and a diligent presence of law enforcement.
"We are very proud of the fact crime in the city of Orlando is down and the Orlando Police Department is working to ensure we continue to make an impact on both property and violent crimes," Quinn-Henry said.