From the Tampa Bay Times, an article about the different tactics the HCSO uses to combat crime in a neighborhood...
Thanks in part to the help of a local community watch organizer, Tampa residents in the Clair-Mel area may at last be getting some relief. Hillsborough sheriff deputies, prodded by the neighborhood watch, sprung into action a few weeks ago. The deputies arrested dozens of men and women on warrants, drug violations and other offenses.
To the community organizer it was long overdue. "A lot of folks don't want to speak up because they're afraid of what's happening, of all the violence," she said. "Am I afraid? Not enough to not stand up and say there's a problem here." she stated.
She brought the neighborhood problems to the attention of the sheriff's office and last Friday morning they conducted a sweep. Starting early in the morning near the neighborhood park, the deputies first initiated a search warrant from a long-time investigation. Inside that house, deputies found three handguns, 16 pounds of marijuana and four men who were arrested on drug and firearm offenses. At the time of this writing, it is unknown as to whether or not any of the men had hired a criminal defense lawyer.
The sweeps continued throughout the day. Thousands of dollars. Over 10 grams of cocaine. The arrests kept adding up. By the end of the day, 25 people were arrested for crimes ranging from drug possession, to driving while license suspended to animal cruelty and outstanding warrants.
While very few of the arrests were for violent crimes, police said they wanted to send a message to the neighborhood. They wanted the criminals to know that there is no safe place to commit a crime.
At the same time that the HCSO was running their sweeps, code enforcement officers also moved in looking for code violations, litter and abandoned buildings. They left but not before mowing grass in abandoned areas, removing graffiti and thousands of pounds of trash and debris. Besides using the "broken window" theory of crime prevention, officials are hoping that if the area is cleaned up, locals will take more pride in the area.
As for the community organizer? While she has been called a snitch and has recived threats on her life, she could not be happier that her neighborhood is looking better.
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