The Largo Police Department is reporting a drop in certain serious crimes.
A comparison of the first six months of last year and the same period this year, showed a 14 percent dip in a key category of crimes.
The grouping, called Part I crimes, includes homicide, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft.
Police Chief Lester Aradi mainly credits his department's low turnover and effective community policing for the decrease.
"The past year, I've had the luxury of retaining most of our officers," Aradi said. "Our officers are more seasoned and veteran officers are not engaged in training our new ones."
The dip in crime actually follows three years of increases. Last year, crimes in the same categories jumped by nearly 10 percent.
In recent years, the city has devoted a lot of resources to replacing five or six officers at a time, and several officers were pulled from other duties to train new recruits, Aradi said.
While the overall number of crimes in the category has dropped, two specific crimes have increased.
Last year, there were no homicides for this period. This year, there was one.
And robberies climbed from 56 in the first six months of last year to 63 for the same span this year.
In light of the current budget climate, Aradi said he has concerns about keeping crime down in the future.
The city now has 137 sworn officers, he said. And Largo administration is talking about furloughs for officers. Aradi is afraid his force will be stretched too thin.
"The challenge is trying to maintain this reduced crime rate with fewer and fewer resources," Aradi said.
Lorri Helfand can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4155.