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Largo's Problem Oriented Police unit make dent in neighborhood's crime

The residential streets around Ninth Avenue and 10th Street SW started getting a little busier after dark in recent months.

Residents began reporting suspicious activity. Crime was rising, police say. It was becoming more than the usual patrols could handle.

Gang activity was trying to bud.

In an effort to nip it, a team of Largo police officers assigned to the agency's Problem Oriented Policing unit saturated the neighborhood for six days between Jan. 5 and 10.

The result: 12 arrests, a half-pound of marijuana and other drugs seized, a runaway minor sent home and a handgun taken from a felon.

"We initiated as much police contact as possible. Making consensual contact with people, finding out who they are, why they were there," said Largo Police Lt. Michael Loux. "Some of the minors and adults arrested were affiliated with the gangs."

Most of the arrests were for non-violent crimes, such as drug or paraphernalia possession. Others were for other offenses, like parole violations or loitering and prowling.

Five of those arrested were minors, some of whom may have been trying to form a gang.

The methodology, Loux said, "wasn't all kicking doors in."

Mostly, the special unit's activity was about talking to people, establishing a police presence, or pulling over every car with an expired tag.

"They hold meetings where they disseminate information. It's like community policing," Loux said of the special unit assigned to the area.

A reason police suspect crime may have been on the rise was a group of young people who lived in the area.

"What it was, is we had a couple families move in, or families who lived there, and their kids became of age, and it spiked at that time," Loux said.

However, Loux said the arrests were just the start in making sure crime in the neighborhood doesn't return. He said work into the gang element and other causes for crime was ongoing.

Largo's Problem Oriented Police unit make dent in neighborhood's crime 01/16/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 3:42pm]
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