Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

As Tampa Bay area hosts Republican National Convention, crime rate falls

TAMPA — By the third day of the Republican National Convention the world watching was left agog: A grand total of three protesters had been arrested, only one during an actual demonstration.

It was calm. Some said too calm. And that's not even the half of it, law enforcement said.

Crime is down. All over. And no one is sure why.

Tampa police have a theory:

"The city of Tampa is the safest place to be right now in the entire United States," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

On average, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties saw significantly fewer arrests this week than in the weeks leading up to the convention, law enforcement officials said. On Monday, about 100 fewer arrests were reported than Monday of last week.

There haven't been as many people calling 911 either.

"It's not just arrests," said Hillsborough County Sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon. "It's everything."

According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, calls for service dipped slightly — about 4 percent — compared with the same time period last week.

With as many as 4,000 uniformed law enforcement officers patrolling the city, McElroy said it's no wonder.

Typically, only about half of Tampa's 500-officer police force patrols on any given day, McElroy said. But for the RNC, it was all hands on deck. And then some.

That means all neighborhood patrols and street beats were unaffected by the convention, while still allowing the department to focus its efforts downtown.

"Maybe we're just scaring the criminals away," McKinnon said.

Or it could be the weather.

Just as some guessed the oppressive heat and looming rain kept protesters off the streets, officials said that when raindrops fall, so does the crime rate.

"Stormy weather tends to keep people at home," said St. Petersburg Police spokesman Mike Puetz. "People who commit crimes get just as wet as people who don't. And no one likes to be out in inclement weather."

Although there may have been less crime, there were more calls for service in St. Petersburg — particularly people reporting suspicious vehicles or people. This, Puetz said, likely has everything to do with the RNC being in town and "the assumption that people come here to start trouble."

Few arrests have resulted from those calls.

Police activity

Hillsborough County's law enforcement agencies made fewer arrests and serious crime calls when compared with the same week last year.

Arrests1,015943 -7.1%
Crime calls5,3112,545-52.1%

As Tampa Bay area hosts Republican National Convention, crime rate falls 08/29/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 9:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre


    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  2. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police


    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  3. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot


    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  5. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]