Brevard sheriff on low crime rate: 'We target criminals'

Sheriff explains why violent crime lowest in 22 years

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey makes no apologies for his aggressive approach toward catching criminals.

On Sunday, Ivey's deputies picked up the chase for two suspected armed carjackers in a stolen SUV who had fled from Martin County into Brevard County.

Ivey said his deputies followed protocol before continuing the chase to make sure the suspects were wanted for a violent crime. Then his deputies spun out the stolen SUV and nearly went airborne. They captured and arrested both suspects.

"We target criminals," Ivey said. "If you're a criminal, we're going to put you in jail." 

Ivey credits his aggressive approach, among other reasons, for the drop in crime.

Ivey said, according to the Uniform Crime Report submitted by the Brevard County Sheriff's Office to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, violent crime fell 5.8 percent from 2016 to 2017. 

Crimes included homicide, robbery, rape, burglary, aggravated assault, larceny/theft and arson.

Ivey said the crime rate decreased overall 19.05 percent since January 2013 and is the lowest in Brevard County in 22 years.

"If you're coming here and your thought is to commit a crime in Brevard County, you probably want to think about going somewhere else," Ivey said. "And when people say how'd you get there it really comes down to creating a partnership with our community."

Ivey's buy-in with his citizens is unusual, compared to other counties.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office Facebook page has 56,000 likes.

Brevard County -- with 1/6th the population -- has 99,000 followers on its Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

"I can't speak to other counties but can tell you why we're successful," Ivey said. "It goes back to that partnership we've created, we've solved so many crimes with the assistance of our citizens. You can't believe how many tips we get on Facebook, how many tips we get on our smartphone app. Our citizens love us, trust us and protect us just as much as we love, trust and protect them."

Ivey said he reaches his citizens often through humor. 

His viral videos on Facebook are often themed around a commercial or show or comedian.

Recently, his impression of Chris Farley's Matt Foley character from "Saturday Night Live" ("Van Down By The River") got 18,000 views on Facebook.

His new segment, "Cookin' Up Justice," where he makes a dish with a local restaurateur and at the same time showcases a wanted fugitive, regularly gets tens of thousands of views.

"I get up every morning and can't wait to go to work, I'm having the time of my life," Ivey said. "We mix a little humor into everything we do. When it's time to be serious we're serious but there are opportunities to deliver messaging with a little bit a humor."

Most of the messages are public service announcements warning citizens about crime.

Ivey said another way he's lowered the crime rate is by getting information to people about crime before they become victims.

He said a low crime rate is not a one-stop destination.

"Now is the time not to let up," Ivey said. "We've got our boot planted on the throat of crime and now is not the time to let up. Now is the time to squeeze down and make sure we're putting criminals where they need to be." 

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