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Police patrols' presence felt in Davis Islands

Harold Moore, the neighborhood watch coordinator on Davis Islands, stands on Martinique Street, where cars were recently broken into and items stolen from several parked on the street.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Harold Moore, the neighborhood watch coordinator on Davis Islands, stands on Martinique Street, where cars were recently broken into and items stolen from several parked on the street.

In Davis Islands, which boasts a per capita income of $48,870, police officers check doors of businesses and homes to make sure they're locked or leave notices on cars that have GPS devices or laptops showing. It may sound a bit like Mayberry, but police Chief Jane Castor said it's a courtesy that's not limited to tonier neighborhoods.

"We do that all over the city," she said.

The service just sticks out more in Davis Islands because it's easier for patrol officers to spot irregularities or suspicious activity on the small island, where criminals and suspicious strangers can't pass through.

"In that respect," Lt. Keith O'Connor said, "officers get a better understanding of who belongs and who doesn't and what's normal and what's not."

To get a feel of what residents think of police patrol in their neighborhood, City Times talked with Harold Moore, 68, who has lived here for more than 30 years.

The semiretired transportation broker in the trucking business is the neighborhood watch coordinator. Here's what he had to say.

As a neighborhood crime watch liaison, you see the daily crime reports. Why do you think liquor law violations rank so highly within your neighborhood?

Gasparilla. We're surrounded by the Invasion that comes up the channel and the parade and there's an enormous amount of arrests on that day or so.

Burglaries also seem to rank high in Davis Islands.

The burglaries that we have are crimes of opportunity. Bicycles in open garages. Laptops sitting out. There was an incident before Christmas where someone kicked in a door of a residence and made off with a widescreen TV and video equipment. But that's extremely rare.

We had a rash of burglaries over the holidays and, once again, it was people leaving garage doors open. We actually thought it might be due to the increased traffic of people looking at the (Derek) Jeter residence. Overall, we're pretty crime-free.

How responsive are police when these types of crimes pop up?

Police immediately increased patrols. They do a great job. They do building checks. They go by a house or the airport and shine a light to see if a door's open or if a garage door's open. If so, they'll leave a notice. Sometimes they check cars and if a GPS is left, they'll leave a notice.

Do you see a police presence?

One day, I came onto the island and saw police cruising around real slowly so I followed them to see what they were investigating. Well, I found out they were just doing routine patrols.

How can crime be down during a recession?

Increased police surveillance. I believe the mayor and police chief have taken extreme measures to keep as many police officers on the street as possible. They may have cut the budget in other areas but it doesn't seem like they've touched patrol.

Justin George

Police patrols' presence felt in Davis Islands 04/08/10 [Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010 4:52pm]

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