Crime likely being underreported during COVID-19 pandemic, Seminole sheriff says

Statistically, crime is down in Seminole County

Coronavirus pandemic complicates domestic violence for victims of abuse
Coronavirus pandemic complicates domestic violence for victims of abuse

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma said statistically, the area’s crime rate is at the lowest its ever seen adding that it’s likely substance and domestic abuse crimes are being underreported due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sheriff made his remarks Wednesday afternoon during a mental health roundtable at AdventHealth in Altamonte Springs. He joined representatives from state agencies, the First Lady of Florida Casey DeSantis and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“You know (crime) is down across the state and Florida and in its 107-year history, it’s never been as low in Seminole County as it is today,” Lemma said. “What’s frightening about that is criminologists suggest that a fraction of the crime that occurs in our communities actually are never reported to law enforcement.”

The roundtable discussion, which focused on the detrimental effects of isolation and how deteriorating mental health could lead to substance abuse and suicide also addressed neglect and domestic violence.

“Think for a moment of all of those victims of abuse, neglect or abandonment,” he said. “Nobody knows about it.”

[Here’s how you can help domestic violence victims during the coronavirus pandemic]

Lemma pointed to statistics, saying though they may seem hopeful they could actually be alarming.

During the talk, state agencies reported a 40% decrease in calls into Florida’s child abuse hotline to report suspected abuse and 44% decrease in child abuse investigations. Agency representatives said the numbers include statistics from March. In context, the decline was odd considering the number of children that are now home more often, officials said.

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