Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crowd at Madeira Beach City Hall speaks up about drug crimes

MADEIRA BEACH — Worry about drug trafficking, home break-ins and other neighborhood crimes brought nearly 50 residents to City Hall on Wednesday to hear advice from Chief Deputy Bob Gualtieri and a contingent of Sheriff's Office representatives.

"We need for you to be our eyes and ears," Gualtieri told the residents, stressing there is little the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office can do to control crime if criminal acts are not reported.

Prescription drug abuse and trafficking is a growing problem throughout the county, Gualtieri said.

"In 2010 Pinellas County led all counties in Florida in the number of overdose deaths," he said. "The drug problem is worse now than it was in the 1980s or 1990s."

As Gualtieri listened to residents worried about drug dealers operating in their neighborhoods and whether it is safe to walk their streets at night, Gualtieri sympathized and promised his deputies.

"One way or another, we are going to fix it," Gualtieri said. "We will fix it."

Residents living on side streets along the west side of Gulf Boulevard regularly complain to the City Commission about what they see as growing crime in their neighborhoods.

Earlier this month, resident Donna Thompson asked "how long" it would take for the drug dealers to be removed from her street.

Another resident, Tom Poe, described the city as a place for "drunks and drug addicts to play, work and make a little money."

Sheriff's Office Cpl. Dave DiSano told residents attending the Neighborhood Watch meeting that deputies were well aware of drug dealing issues on both 145th and 147th avenues.

"We are already on it, and we are making a difference out there," Di­Sano said.

Mayor Travis Palladeno confirmed Thursday that drug-related activity in city neighborhoods has declined in recent weeks.

"They have stepped up patrols, and things have quieted down. It has slowly been improving," Palladeno said.

Earlier this month residents along 145th Avenue demanded the commission pass a new, tougher code enforcement law that would give the city the ability to levy stiff fines on property owners and force them to evict renters who repeatedly are arrested and convicted for criminal activity.

The commission is planning to hold a special workshop Oct. 24 on the proposed code enforcement ordinance and is expected to address how that ordinance will enhance crime-fighting efforts by the Sheriff's Office.

Since January, there have been 476 crimes investigated in Madeira Beach, not counting traffic accidents and minor complaints, according to the Sheriff's Office website.

Of those, there were 205 crimes that involved burglaries (79), robberies (3), and thefts (123).

The majority of specific crimes investigated involved trespassing (124) and vandalism (86). Only three crimes involved weapons.

Surprisingly, given the residents' complaints of drug trafficking, no drug-related crimes were listed. Sgt. Tom Nestor of the Sheriff's Office explained that tips called in by residents do not show up on the website.

Crowd at Madeira Beach City Hall speaks up about drug crimes 10/22/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 22, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe


    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]
  2. Editorial: Trump uses Americans' health care as bargaining chip


    Unable to persuade Congress to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump appears determined to do the dirty work himself. The president's unilateral actions are aimed at driving up premiums, steering healthy people away from the federal marketplace and ensuring his inaccurate description of the law as a …

    Unable to persuade Congress to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump appears determined to do the dirty work himself.
  3. Port Richey fire chief charged with DUI, hitting a cop in the face


    PORT RICHEY — The Port Richey fire chief crashed a motorcycle, showed signs of impairment and hit a New Port Richey police officer in the face after being taken to the hospital Sunday night, according to a police report.

    A screenshot from the web site of Little Corona's Cigar Lounge, owned by Port Richey Fire Chief Timothy Fussell, who was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and battery on a law enforcement officer Sunday night.
  4. Trump: Cuba 'is responsible' for attacks on U.S. personnel


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he believes Cuba "is responsible" for attacks on American government personnel in Havana.

    President Donald Trump answers questions as he speaks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., in the rose Garden after their meeting at the White House, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, in Washington. [Associated Press]
  5. Sports anchor Tom Korun leaving WFTS after decades in Tampa Bay TV


    WFTS ABC Action News sports anchor and director Tom Korun is retiring from broadcasting after more than 14 years at the station and 31 years on Tampa Bay TV screens.

    Tom Korun is retiring after 31 years on Tampa Bay television.