PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Crime rates are dropping quickly across Bay County. 

“In the last six years we’ve been showing about a 40% decrease in the crime rate,” Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said. 

In 2021 crime decreased by more than 17%. In unincorporated Bay County, crime fell by almost 23%. Statewide crime fell by 9.5%.

“What I think works for us is our sense of urgency and responding to crime, responding to victims of crime,” Ford said.

He said quick response times are one reason for a case-clearing rate more than twice as high as the rest of the state.

“So the statewide average clearance rate, it’s 24.6%,” Ford said. “And the county sheriff’s office clearance rate for 2021 to 64.9%.”

Ford believes the BAYROC program is influential in the sheriff’s office’s success.

“Something we will see dividends from is our Bay Real Time Operations and our use of technology to address criminal activity to make sure we dedicate our resources to where they need to be,” Ford said. “And that’s something that we’ve done here at the sheriff’s office over the, you know, the last several years.”

Ford also said cooperation between local agencies is a significant factor. He said the joint response to last March’s spring takeover made it clear crime won’t be tolerated.