Better, safer, cleaner streets. Better, safer, cleaner neighborhoods. Those were Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay’s words as he reported a 13.6% reduction in crime for 2019 to community leaders in Key Largo recently.

In the past two years alone, Ramsay said, crime went down 30 percent.

“This is the safest it’s ever been,” he said. “Crime still exists. But overall, this is one of the safest places to live, work and play.”

Ramsay attributes the downtick in crime to several factors, including the community policing approach among the men and women who patrol the streets and neighborhoods. Throughout the year, deputies will take part in community cleanups, interact with youth at local schools and volunteer at events.

“First off, there’s got to be a vision from the CEO of where you want to go and what your goals and objectives are,” he said. “Those goals and objectives focus on community policing and reducing crime.”

“Another factor is we have some of the best men and women in law enforcement in Monroe County,” he continued. “We are so blessed. You know a lot of our staff from the captains to the lieutenants. These people are your friends, and that’s part of our community policing program — to be involved in the community.”

On the investigations side, Ramsay reported an all-time high in solving major index crime, or felonies. The state averages around 25% to 26% in solving the worst crimes. In 2019, Ramsay said the sheriff’s office had a 43 % solvability rate — up from 38.3% the year before.

“We’re evaluated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement about our effectiveness. They evaluate police departments and sheriff’s offices across the state to see how effective you are,” he said. “The things we’re doing to work hard to focus on you — the quality of life — and focus on proactive policing versus reactive. A lot of agencies are reactive. They wait for the call. We try to prevent and ensure and focus to try to stop it before it happens. If it does happen, we stay aggressive to solve it.”

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office holds five professional accreditation certifications, including both national and Florida state law enforcement accreditations. By being accredited, Ramsay said the office lives by the best standards and practices in the industry.

“We take a lot of pride in that, and we think you should too,” he said. “These are our efforts to make sure you have the best law enforcement agency anywhere, and you feel confident about this agency and where we’re headed.”

With effective policing and top accreditations, the sheriff also takes his fiscal responsibility seriously. Last year, Ramsay gave back $5.7 million to the county commission. It’s due in part to programs like Trauma Star, which flies 1,000 missions and saves many lives each year. The flights generated $1 million to the county.

Space at the Stock Island Corrections Facility is rented to jail federal inmates. As a result, the jail made $2.2 million last year.

“This year, we negotiated with the feds, and we’re expected to make about $3 million, which I give back to the county,” he said.

Join Our Blast – Keys News Right to Your INBOX