Program seeks to reduce youth crime in summer
Next week, St. Petersburg police Chief Charles Harmon will launch Operation Safe Summer — aimed at reducing youth-related crime during the school break.
The city's Uniform Crime Rate is down 10 percent during the first four months of 2008, when compared with the same period in 2007.
That's good news. But juvenile-related crimes, such as auto theft and vehicle burglary, tend to go up when schools let out.
Maj. Donnie Williams, Youth Resources Division, will oversee supervisors and officers dedicated to the project throughout the summer.
The citywide program will use a two-pronged approach.
Officers will use traditional law enforcement methods to track repeat offenders and arrest individuals who disregard the laws, but they will also refer individuals in need of services such as substance abuse education, conflict resolution and employment.
To accomplish the second approach, a partnership has been formed with several organizations dedicated to providing young people some support. These partners include the Pinellas County Urban League, Police Athletic League, city of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation, NAACP, Pinellas Technical Education Center, Boys & Girls Clubs and local faith-based institutions.
The public can take a part in helping to reduce youth crime by following a few tips: always lock your car, never leave it with the engine running and the air conditioning on because it is too hot, use anti-theft devices and never leave valuables in plain sight, especially items such as phones and GPS devices.
William Proffitt, St. Petersburg Police spokesman