Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sheriff says crime, car crashes easing in southside Dunedin

DUNEDIN — Just two months after southside residents loudly complained about high crime, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and community members say undercover work and increased patrols appear to have abated the problem.

In his first public quarterly report to the Dunedin City Commission, Gualtieri said that between October and December 2012, deputies in south Dunedin issued 218 citations and 624 warrants. That portion of the city also saw:

• 60 percent decrease in residential burglaries.

• 60 percent decrease in batteries.

• 68 percent decrease in thefts.

•43 percent decrease in crashes.

• 42 percent increase in arrests (a product, Gualtieri said, of increased directed patrols, in which deputies walk neighborhoods meeting residents, monitoring activity by unknowns and logging field reports that can later be reviewed if a crime occurs).

Meanwhile, Gualtieri said, the area remains the focus of "significant" undercover activity.

"People need to know there's a lot going on beyond the obvious," he said Thursday. "So those who are out there selling drugs and doing things they shouldn't be doing, think about it. Because the person you're involved with may be working on behalf of law enforcement or a law enforcement officer."

Commissioners' request for quarterly updates grew out of unrest during a November town hall meeting, where frustrated neighbors angrily swapped stories about witnessing drug deals or experiencing home invasions and thefts. Several residents accused deputies of brushing off complaints, being slow to respond to calls or refusing to leave their patrol cars.

Gualtieri vowed then to rectify the problems and pleaded for patience.

Things got off to a rocky start, with the Lyndhurst Neighborhood Watch dissolving two weeks following the meeting after group leader Stacy Rush accused a deputy of aggressive behavior when responding to a call about suspicious activity. Rush told Dunedin Patch that the deputy let the suspects go and yelled that she should stop calling the Sheriff's Office because "you don't know what you're seeing."

However, earlier this month Rush said she and 50 to 60 of her neighbors in a several-block radius had extended an "olive branch" to the Sheriff's Office and were pleased with the response. She told commissioners she appreciated being approached by a watchful deputy as she walked her sick dog at 2 a.m. on Christmas night.

"They've done a fabulous job," echoed Amy Poteet of Lyndhurst Street on Thursday. "They've worked really hard and we've worked with them kind of behind the scenes. And they've done a really good job cleaning up our streets and we appreciate it."

Gualtieri and residents credit the reinstatement of a community policing officer, a position cut to reduce the budget, with having the most impact on area crime. The officer primarily patrols unincorporated Pinellas County between Dunedin's Union Street and Clearwater's Sunset Point Road.

"The crime in that area was having a bleed-over effect into the south Dunedin area," Gualtieri said. Community policing officers "are not just for reacting to situations, but being proactive, getting to know the neighbors, preventing crime from happening and solving problems."

Gualtieri, who said he will try to personally deliver all of Dunedin's quarterly crime reports, expects to have citywide data at the April City Commission meeting.

The department will also speak with the city about partnering in coming months on city-sponsored events, such as public safety workshops during the annual spring Touch-A-Truck event.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or [email protected] To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

. Fast facts

Traffic in Dunedin

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Dunedin's decision a few years ago to add a traffic enforcement unit of off-duty deputies who spend 140 hours a week seeking out speeders, red-light runners and other violators has improved crash rates. According to Gualtieri, crashes decreased 6 percent citywide between 2010 and 2012. In 2012 alone, he said, deputies conducted 11,500 traffic stops — that's an average of 31 cars a day.

Sheriff says crime, car crashes easing in southside Dunedin 01/29/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 7:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  2. Funeral held for U.S. soldier at center of Trump fight

    Nation

    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102
  3. Chemical industry insider now shapes EPA policy

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water.

    This is the Dow chemical plant near Freeport, Texas. Before the 2016 election, Dow had been in talks with the EPA to phase out the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is blamed for disabilities in children. Dow is no longer willing to compromise.
  4. Unforgiving wildfires affect vineyard workers and owners

    Nation

    SONOMA, Calif. — When the wildfires ignited, vineyard workers stopped picking grapes and fled for their lives. Some vineyard owners decided to stay and fight back, spending days digging firebreaks and sleeping among their vines.

    Wilma Illanes and daughter Gabriela Cervantes, 8, found their home intact, but had lost a week’s wages and sought aid.
  5. O'Reilly got new contract after big settlement

    Nation

    Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network's top-rated host at the time, Bill O'Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, two people briefed on the matter told the New York …

    Bill O’Reilly was fired by Fox News after multiple allegations.