Saturday, May 26, 2018
Public safety

Residents of Dunedin's south side complain about crime

DUNEDIN — Residents on the city's south side say they are fed up with drug deals, home invasions, thefts and other crime.

"We moved to Dunedin because we like the downtown feel, and now I'm petrified. I want to move," said one of the more than 75 residents who attended a town hall-style meeting on south side concerns at the Hale Activity Center on Tuesday night.

The woman said she had witnessed drug buys from her front porch. Said another, "When are my rights by the Sheriff's Office going to be protected?"

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who attended the meeting, said his office is investigating complaints, but that it takes time to recruit informants, then conduct the surveillance and undercover buys needed to build solid cases.

He expects the situation to improve, he said, because his department has conducted hundreds of hours of directed patrols, and also recently reinstated a community policing officer to patrol the unincorporated area between Dunedin's Union Street and Clearwater's Sunset Point Road.

But, he said, deputies need the community's continued help, in the form of tips and increased participation in neighborhood watch groups.

"I think we have adequate resources. … The tools are in place," Gualtieri said. "It's a matter of tweaking things some. And that's what we want to find out tonight — where to make some adjustments."

The meeting was the latest in a series aimed at airing south side residents' concerns about issues including recreation needs, blight from vacant homes, Edgewater Drive car crashes and chronic flooding due to old stormwater drainage systems.

But crime was, by far, the No. 1 topic of discussion Tuesday night.

Clearwater officials, including police Chief Tony Holloway, came to hear ways the city can partner with Dunedin on law enforcement and other issues that spill across the cities' border.

"We know that the drug problem is a No. 1 problem and we know it primarily involves kids and young people," Gualtieri said.

He said his deputies have focused roughly 94 hours a month on dedicated drug enforcement this year, up from 40 hours a month last year and 60 hours in all of 2010.

"There is work to be done and we know that," he said.

While several residents praised the Sheriff's Office's efforts, there were also complaints, with some residents saying that deputies are slow to respond to calls about drug buys, arriving after they are over and the perpetrators gone.

Gualtieri explained that scenarios aren't always as they appear. Police are barred from trampling citizens' rights by conducting unlawful searches or interrogations unless they can prove reasonable suspicion. That's why, he said, a partnership with the community is so important.

Discussion about neighborhood watch groups led to questions about how far residents could and should go to help deputies. For example, is it okay to videotape suspicious activity conducted right out in the open?

It's legal, Gualtieri said, but rather than put themselves in danger, he advised residents to contact his office with tips (they can be anonymous) or for updates on arrests. There's also a Crime Viewer map on the sheriff's website that allows everyone in Pinellas to track incidents in their neighborhoods, he said.

"Call us," Gualtieri said. "There's nothing too minor. There is nothing too small."

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

Comments
Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

Her husband wouldn't apologize to her father — so she shot him, police say

RIVERVIEW — A Riverview woman shot and killed her husband Saturday because he punched her father and wouldn’t say sorry, the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office said. Sabrina Michelle Hendley, 40, faces a first-degree murder charge in th...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

Hernando officials seize 36 neglected dogs from sanctuary

WEEKI WACHEE — A woman who runs an animal sanctuary will face dozens of animal cruelty charges after Hernando County animal enforcement officers said they found dogs, equine, pigs, cats and chickens housed in poor conditions on her property.Animal of...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Police investigating shooting outside nightclub

ST. PETERSBURG — Police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred outside a south St. Petersburg nightclub early Saturday morning.Brennan-Aire D. Williams, 28, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving by cab at Bayfront Health. Police invest...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Woman dies in Plant City after SUV flips off road

PLANT CITY — A Seffner woman died Saturday from injuries sustained when her sports utility vehicle flipped off the road and crashed into a fence near the intersection of Tanner Road and State Road 574.Amanda K. Cepeda-Duque, 21, was traveling west on...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Quick action to slow traffic on Bayshore prompts call to do more citywide

Quick action to slow traffic on Bayshore prompts call to do more citywide

TAMPA — As city workers set up signs Friday establishing a lower speed limit on Bayshore Boulevard, neighborhood residents and transportation activists urged more steps to improve safety for pedestrians all across the city.The move is a good beginnin...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

Police: Driver in fatal Bayshore faces new charge in child’s death

The 18-year-old who was arrested this week after police said he was racing when he fatally struck a young mother pushing her stroller across Bayshore Boulevard was back in jail on Friday night.Cameron Herrin, 18, was arrested on a second count of veh...
Published: 05/25/18
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Published: 05/25/18

Raccoon bites bicyclist, now the Health Department is looking for the victim

TAMPA — A bicyclist in the Palm River area was bitten by a raccoon Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County said.Now the department is concerned the animal had rabies and is searching for the bicyclist."While it is impo...
Published: 05/25/18

Police: Baby not abandoned; mother surrendered infant

TAMPA — A newborn baby initially thought to be found on the ground near a trash can in north Tampa was not abandoned, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.The child’s mother gave birth to the boy Thursday, and she and someone else too...
Published: 05/25/18
Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

Student says science teacher tackled Indiana school shooter

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — A male student opened fire at a suburban Indianapolis middle school Friday morning, wounding another student and a teacher before being taken into custody, authorities said. Seventh-grader Ethan Stonebraker said the science teache...
Published: 05/25/18