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Patrols successful at taming speeders

The Northdale Special Tax District hires off-duty sheriff's deputies at a cost of $2,800 month.

After nine months, added security patrols seem to be doing the job of keeping more drivers under the speed limit and between the yellow lines on Northdale Boulevard.

That's the word from Northdale property manager Diane Montgomery, who administers the program for the Special Tax District.

"I've certainly heard from residents and people outside the neighborhood who have remarked on it," Montgomery said. "The word is out: Don't speed in Northdale unless you've got your wallet."

Fast traffic on the 35 mph road became so problematic that the district in April took the unusual step of hiring off-duty Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies to do extra patrols in the area.

After six months, the program was extended and expanded to 32 random four-hour shifts a month, costing the district about $2,800 a month when all the shifts are filled. Initially, deputies focused on speed enforcement. The sight of a driver pulled over and receiving a citation became quite common.

But in recent months, the duty has become more neighborhood-oriented.

"We're splitting it up," Montgomery said. "Now that we have more hours, we're doing a lot more patrolling in the communities. They're doing a lot of neighborhood patrolling and taking residents' comments. Any time someone calls and says something's going on, the deputies check on it."

Northdale's Community Resource Deputy Jerry Stramiello said he's noticed a change since the patrols began.

"I think it's worked," Stramiello said. "To me personally, it doesn't appear to be going wild like it was. I think that people are aware that the deputies are out there working and they don't know when, which makes it even better."

_ Logan D. Mabe