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. 10 National Monuments the Interior Department Wants to Shrink or Modify


    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed that President Donald Trump make changes to 10 national monuments, including Bears Ears in southern Utah, according to a memo addressed to the White House.

  2. At UN, Trump threatens 'total destruction' of North Korea (w/video)


    UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump, in a combative debut speech to the U.N. General Assembly, threatened the "total destruction'" of North Korea if it does not abandon its drive toward nuclear weapons.

    United States President Donald Trump prepares to speak during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Associated Press]
  3. Grocery chain Aldi hiring for 500 positions across Florida


    Aldi, the German grocery store chain, is hiring for 500 positions across Florida, including at its locations in Tampa Bay. The company will hold a "one-day hiring spree" Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at all Aldi stores in the state, a Tuesday release said.

    Aldi, a German grocery store chain, is hiring for 500 positions across the state. | [Times file photo]
  4. Hurricane Maria, with 160 mph winds, could devastate Puerto Rico by Wednesday morning


    ROSEAU, Dominica — Hurricane Maria smashed into Dominica with 160 mph winds, ripping the roof off even the prime minister's residence and causing what he called "mind-boggling" devastation …

    This Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, GOES East satellite image provided by NASA taken at 20:30 UTC, shows the eye of Hurricane Maria as it nears Dominica. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Monday evening that Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter planes found that Maria had strengthened into a storm with 160 mph (260 kph) winds. [NASA via AP]
  5. A botched surgery left a barber with erectile dysfunction. Decades later, he took revenge.

    The old man booked his appointment under an alias.

    In this July 27, 2017 file photo, Stanwood Fred Elkus, accused of shooting and killing his doctor at the doctor's office in Newport Beach in 2013, is wheeled into Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Calif.