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. Missouri governor halts man's execution after DNA questions


    ST. LOUIS — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens halted Tuesday's scheduled execution of condemned killer Marcellus Williams after DNA raised questions about his guilt.

    This February 2014 photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Marcellus Williams. [Missouri Department of Corrections via AP]
  2. Suspect in robbery of Brandon woman, 86, has been arrested more than 40 times


    BRANDON — One spring day in 2012, Marcus Wayne Hunt walked out the of Orient Road jail a free man after posting bail on a charge of fleeing from police and driving without a license

    This surveillance photo shows Marcus Hunt, 28, pointing a gun at an 86-year-old woman as she unloaded groceries from her car parked at her Brandon home on Monday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Hunt fled in the Toyota Corolla and was arrested shortly after midnight Tuesday. 
[Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Killings put spotlight on possible neo-Nazi threat


    TAMPA — The friendship of the four young roommates — though cemented in the dark trappings of an obscure neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division — never seemed destined for bloodshed.

    This undated photo provided by Kianna Kaizer, shows  Jeremy Himmelman and his girlfriend Kianna Kaizer. Himmelman was fatally shot along with his friend Andrew Oneschuk, 18, by a roommate in the Tampa apartment the men all shared.  [AP photo]
  4. Fire at Wesley Chapel home leads to discovery of marijuana plants


    WESLEY CHAPEL — A fire that broke out Monday at a Wesley Chapel home led to the discovery of a room with marijuana plants, the Pasco Sheriff's Office said.

  5. Kriseman gets 2nd police union endorsement


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement