A tradition of sorts in Port St. Lucie has been secured for another year, the title of safest large city in Florida, based on data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
"This community, this is their expectation," PSL Police Chief John Bolduc said.
In 2017, the city saw the lowest number of crimes for cities in Florida with more than 100,000 people for the eighth consecutive year.
"We're continuously moving what we’re putting our resources on and what we’re working on," Chief Bolduc said. "If you asked me this question two years ago, I would’ve said shoplifting. We developed a plan for that, we implemented it and shoplifting has come down dramatically. Right now, we’re centering most of our efforts around opioid problems, mental health. Obviously we’re ramping up for school security."
The level of certain crimes in Port St. Lucie is also decreasing year over year. It's back down to what it was before the year 2000, despite the population more than doubling.
"Total index crimes, which are the eight crimes the FBI combines to produce its annual crime index, was the lowest it has been in Port St. Lucie since 1999," the city spokesperson wrote in a press release.
Crime dropped 15.5 percent last year with an increase in population of 1.8 percent.
Chief Bolduc attributes the decrease in crime to policing strategies based on crime data and trends as well as the efforts of people in the community.
John and Lana Gauvreau help out with that by volunteering more than 16 hours of their week to the city's neighborhood crime watch.
“Helping out the city," Lana said.
“Make the bad guy aware that they’re being watched," John said.
They help monitor houses whose owners are on vacation or homes that are vacant to make sure nobody is breaking into them.
“We’ve seen some strange stuff over the years. Furniture dumped out in the backyard where all the windows and the sliders were blown out," John said. "In the last five years I would say I’ve seen less events in the homes that we’re watching.”
Data from the FBI shows Port St. Lucie saw the greatest decrease in violent crimes last year out of 22 major Florida cities.
“We don’t have any particular part of the city that’s a high-crime area like a lot of cities that are much older," Chief Bolduc said.
To find out violent crime rates in your city, click here.