This is the blog for Robert Vincent, Chief of Police for the Gulfport (Florida) Police Department. Please feel free to leave comments, but keep in mind that anything appearing on this page may be subject to retention and disclosure in accordance with Florida public records law.

Please keep your posts clean and respectful. Comments are subject to review, and I do not permit lewdness, obscenity, or personal attacks.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

I started working for the Gulfport Police Department twenty years ago. Almost twenty years before that, my father used to bring me down to the beach on the weekends so I could climb on the monkey bars at the playground. In that nearly forty years, a lot has changed in this town, most of it for the better. In other areas, progress seems a bit slow. Look at 49th Street.

Four lanes of asphalt, no more than 100 feet wide, separate the City of Gulfport from the Greater Childs Park Area (GCPA) of St. Petersburg, which includes all of the Childs Park neighborhood as well as portions of three others (Oak Park, Twin Brooks, and Perry Bayview). As long as I can remember, this border road has not only served as a political boundary; it has represented a divide between two very different cultures. Obviously the demographic variances contribute to this image. Gulfport is and has historically been comprised of a majority white population, while the GCPA is and has been predominantly African-American. So 49th Street separates a white neighborhood from a black neighborhood, but there’s much more to the picture than racial differences.

Let’s take a look at some numbers that actually matter. Census tracts 208.00 and 201.01 encompass the St. Petersburg neighborhoods directly east of Gulfport—essentially the GCPA. Combined, these two tracts have a population and land area that is similar to that of Gulfport. The overall crime rate, however, is more than twice that of our town, and the violent crime rate is over five times higher than Gulfport’s (Table 1). These are rates that far exceed the averages for the City of St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and the state of Florida. There is absolutely no question that the GCPA is a high-crime neighborhood; let’s just call that a given.

The problem is, all of this crime is literally happening right across the street. We work hard and do a great job of keeping crime rates low within Gulfport’s municipal borders, but that’s not much consolation to those who have to live and work on that particular border. While they may not be immediate victims of actual crimes, Gulfport residents who live near the GCPA experience the indirect impacts of that crime on a daily basis. This is why I repeatedly make the claim that we in Gulfport do not have a crime problem on 49th Street; we have a problem resulting from the perception of the crime occurring next door.

The question: how much can we do about it? I think our officers do an outstanding job considering the mere ribbon of pavement between us and the aforementioned high-crime neighborhood. We do what we do, how we do it because our constituents demand it. What we all have to realize and accept, however, is that what happens across the street is not up to us. The people who live in the GCPA are the ones who get to decide how their neighborhood is policed. They are the ones who set the enforcement priorities and dictate them to their representatives. We have no more right to tell them to tighten things up than they have to ask us to lighten up (believe me, they’ve asked).

The bottom line is this: any change to the crime rate in the GCPA must be driven by those who live there. If they don’t want things to change, then we in Gulfport will not have much of an impact.

Please don’t get the impression that St. Petersburg is ignoring this area. I want to point out that there have been some pretty impressive reductions in the GCPA crime rate since the implementation of a Strategic Planning Initiative under Mayor Baker’s administration in 2007. Overall crime has dropped 34% in this area over the past four years, while it has essentially remained static in Gulfport. While this is movement in the right direction, I intend work to encourage the new mayor and new police chief to take more proactive steps to further reduce violent crime in this area. When our residents are affected, our voice needs to be heard.

For our part, Gulfport has undertaken a few projects and programs to help improve the perception as well. New LED street lighting will be installed in January, making the roadway more visible at night. We’ve improved the signage at our office on 49th Street, making if more clear that it is home to the office of an actual police officer, and we’re in the process of installing high-visibility surveillance cameras on that building as well. We also added a full-time officer to handle recruiting and screening, which frees up our Community Resource Officer, Zach Mills, to spend more of his time focusing on policing the 49th Street area.

Of course, we won’t be able to measure the effect of any of these changes until this time next year. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to some positive changes in both perception and reality. Happy New Year everyone!

Table 1—UCR Part 1 Crimes, City of Gulfport vs. Census Tracts 208.00 and 201.01 combined

Monday, September 23, 2013

I've Been Robbed, Sort Of.

I ran into a man the other day who told me he’d been robbed. Now, since we’ve been averaging only about one robbery per month lately, I usually keep on top of them. I wasn’t familiar with this particular robbery, so I pressed for details. Turns out, the man was not robbed; he was the victim of a burglary. Well, sort of—the weed eater was taken from his truck.

Very confusing, I know. Unfortunately, we’re at the whim of much larger bureaucracies when it comes to reporting and classifying criminal activity in Gulfport. The state legislature has one set of definitions—the ones we use to actually charge and prosecute people; the federal government has its own, and they’re entirely different. Let me give you a couple of examples to help explain.

When somebody points a gun at you and steals your wallet, that’s a robbery no matter how you look at it. Both state and federal definitions call it the same thing; taking property by use of violence is a robbery. If the criminal instead snatches your purse off your arm and runs away, no violence involved, now things get confusing. That’s a robbery under Florida law, but most likely not under the federal rules.

The kid who jimmies your back door and breaks into your house to steal the TV commits a burglary under both definitions. Forcing entry into a residence to commit theft is always a burglary, but there are plenty of cases where sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.

Under Florida law, burglary does not require forced entry. And it applies to vehicles just the same. Under federal law, there is no such thing as burglary to a vehicle. So when somebody opens your unlocked car and takes the change out of the cup holder, that’s a burglary in Florida, but it’s just a theft according to the feds.

To make matters even more confusing, the state legislature added something called “curtilage” to their burglary statute. This means that if you steal a bicycle from under a covered porch, for example, it’s a burglary. The FBI, of course, does not agree; to them it’s just theft.

To keep the public informed, we participate in the Pinellas Crime Viewer program, which is a very cool, interactive map that is free and open to the public (gis.pinellascounty.org/crimeviewer). Our offense data is uploaded daily to this website, and the stats are based on crimes as they are defined under state, not federal law. This is the source that local news outlets use to report crime, so this is what most people see on a regular basis.

What makes things look strange, however, is that we also have to produce reports twice per year for the FBI. These reports are intended to be uniform throughout the nation so that researchers can make reasonably-accurate comparisons. Of course, these reports are based on federal crime definitions. This explains why you might read the local paper every week and see eight to ten burglaries, yet our annual report shows less than 200.

Via the accreditation process, GPD reporting procedures are subject to a thorough review by outside experts once every three years. The FBI, State Attorney’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also have oversight authority over this process. Each of those entities can at any time and without notice review our records to ensure we are following the rules. Furthermore, all records that are not legally exempt are also subject to public review. Any person can review our reports and publicly challenge the findings.

So when the data looks a bit strange and doesn’t seem to jive, I promise you there is no nefarious intent, just bureaucracy at its finest.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Setting the Record Straight

Last month, a young Gulfport resident was beaten by three older students on a school bus. News of this incident has been widely reported, and since a version of a local report was carried nationally by CNN, I have been overwhelmed with e-mails and phone calls from those who have been misled to think that I and the Gulfport Police Department have spoken ill of the bus driver.

Please allow me the opportunity to set the record straight.

I did a recorded interview with WFLA Tampa reporter, Yolanda Fernandez. I agreed to do the interview because I had received several questions from concerned people who had seen the video footage and wanted to know if we were going to criminally charge the bus driver. Having seen the video myself, I thought this was a reasonable concern and wanted to address it publicly.

When Ms. Fernandez’s story aired, I considered it an accurate representation of our conversation. I had explained during the interview that we would be referring the matter to the state attorney’s office for evaluation of charges. I said that, while I understood the bus driver’s decision not to get physically involved in the situation, the evidence indicated that he did not take action where it seemed clear that he could have. For example, the attack began after the bus was stopped, and the victim was beaten almost continuously for 64 seconds before the driver said something to the assailants. As soon as he did, they discontinued their attack. Imagine if he’d said something sooner. When the criminals fled the bus out the emergency exit, the victim lay out of sight underneath the seats. The driver, who had previously acknowledged to dispatch that he thought the boy was going to be killed, remained standing at the front of the bus.

When the state attorney’s office indicated it was not going to charge the driver with a crime, another WFLA reporter, Peter Bernard, did a follow up story. Unfortunately, what appeared on air included a heavily edited version of my statement. It appeared as though I was personally criticizing the bus-driver for not trying to step in and fight off the attackers. It was this particular version of the story that was picked up and re-aired by CNN and others without benefit of any follow up questions.

So I’m now left with the task of clarifying things on a very large scale. Essentially, this is what I have to make clear: I would not expect anybody who does not feel capable to physically intervene against three, violent teens. I completely understand and accept this bus driver’s decision not to do so.

Before I close, I think it is worth mentioning that the Gulfport Police Department did not reveal the identity of the bus driver. Until they became public record under Florida law, we did not release any documents with the driver’s name. We also did not mention his name in any news interviews or media releases, and his face was not visible in the video footage that we released. I presume his identity was learned via the Pinellas school board, and then it was revealed publicly by the television news.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Governer's Veto to Impact Local Taxpayers

For nearly forty years, one of the most efficient government operations in the state of Florida has been operating with no revenue from taxes. Thanks to Governor Rick Scott, that’s about to change.

Since 1975, a relatively obscure government operation known as the Police Applicant Screening Service (PASS) has continued to provide a centralized screening operation for all of the law enforcement agencies in Pinellas County. Although some additional background investigation is done by the employers, this initial screening serves to establish a pool of candidates that meet established basic criteria. Four full-time employees process applicants at a rate of 30-40 per month, conducting interviews and reviewing records from employers, government organizations, and credit bureaus.

Because applicants often express interest in several law enforcement agencies, PASS reduces the need for redundant screening that would otherwise take place. Instead of five or six background investigators at several police departments creating a similar file on the same applicant, one PASS investigator does the work and then shares it with any department that’s interested. This arrangement was the first of its kind in Florida, and others have followed suit. Since the inception of PASS in 1975, twelve law enforcement selection centers have been developed around the state. The US Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in cooperation with the International Association of Chiefs of Police highlighted PASS in a 2009 report as an example of government collaboration.

The best part of this program is that it has been completely funded with revenue from user fees and fines from traffic citations. Applicants pay a $250 processing fee, and PASS receives $2 from each traffic citation issued in Pinellas County. Unfortunately, the revenues have not been keeping up with expenses. To keep the operation solvent, PASS Director Mike Waters indicated an additional $100,000 in revenue would be needed in the coming year.

Since the applicant fee is market-driven, it cannot be increased, so another solution is needed. The Police Standards Council (PSC), which consists of the state attorney, sheriff, and chief of police for every law enforcement agency in the county, serves as the board of directors to the PASS operation. The PSC focused its efforts on amending the charter to allow for an increase in traffic fine revenue instead. Florida law allows selection centers to receive up to $3 per traffic citation, but the PASS charter, in place for decades, limits it to $2.

House Bill 1411, sponsored by Representative Ed Hooper, was drafted to accomplish this goal. It passed muster at the Pinellas Legislative Delegation, earning unanimous approval. In committee and on the main floor of the House, the Bill met with similar results. In the end, there was not one single member of the legislature who expressed opposition to the idea of allowing the PSC to charge an additional $1 to traffic violators so that this outstanding program could thrive.

Then it got to the governor’s office. Showing a complete lack of understanding for how the program works, Rick Scott vetoed the Bill, referring to PASS as an additional layer of unnecessary, duplicate government services.

Now, Pinellas agencies are faced with two options. We can disband the PASS operation entirely, which would require every agency to increase personnel dedicated to applicant screening. Or what is more likely, we can ask each agency to contribute some amount to make up the budget shortfall. Either of these options will result in an immediate and direct impact to taxpayers.

Ironically in his effort to approve “no new taxes or fees”, Governor Scott’s veto has put this government organization on a path where it will be funded, for the first time in nearly forty years, with taxes. In my opinion (and that is the purpose of this blog), the governor’s action was completely irresponsible and entirely driven by politics. The people of Florida deserve better.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Red Light Camera Update--New Law Ushers Changes

The Florida legislature passed changes to the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act, which is the law that pertains to the red light photo enforcement program. If the governor signs the bill, several changes will go into effect on July 1st. Here are some of the most notable:

1.      Those who receive a Notice of Violation (NOV) will now have 60 days rather than 30 days to respond.

2.      If the vehicle owner fills out an affidavit naming another person as the driver of the vehicle, that person will now be issued a NOV with a $158 fine rather than a Uniform Traffic Citation (UTC) with a $264 fine.

3.      The “right on red” language has been clarified in the law. GPD will amend enforcement to comply with the new language, which states that it is not a violation if a vehicle stops at any point after the stop bar but prior to completing the turn. We will also increase our trigger speed from 12 to 15 miles per hour, which means that any vehicle entering the intersection at this speed and then failing to stop at any point during the turn will be issued a NOV.

4.      There is now an official grievance process for those who receive a NOV. Previously, anyone wishing to appeal would have to ignore the NOV, which would prompt the issuance of a UTC with a higher fine. Under the previous arrangement, only a UTC could be appealed.

5.      Under the new law, appeals of NOV’s will be heard by a local hearing officer. In Gulfport, we have made arrangements to use the code enforcement magistrate, who is Gulfport resident and attorney James Thaler.

6.      If the magistrate finds the party guilty, then the original $158 fine will be assessed, along with court costs. The law allows up to $250 in court costs to be charged, but we will likely ask for no more than $100. We want to encourage people to use this process, so we don’t want the total fine to be higher than that for a UTC, which is $264.

7.      Guilty parties who do not pay the fines assessed by the magistrate (or file an appeal to the circuit court within a designated time) will have their vehicle registration suspended. This means that corporate owners can no longer get away scot free. Under the previous law, only drivers licenses could be suspended, and since those are issued to individuals, businesses were often ignoring their NOV’s.

These new procedures put Florida more in line with how other states operate similar programs. I believe this is a much more fair and balanced approach, allowing everyone their due process rights while ensuring that cities are not overburdened with costs.

I have previously reported to city council and in this forum that injury crashes significantly decreased in Gulfport following the implementation of this program. I have also provided financial data indicating that the program covers its own costs but does not generate significant revenue for the city (approximately $25,000 net estimated in 2012).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A New Police Station?

With the proposal at a recent workshop to consider building a new police station, I knew it wouldn’t be long before folks started asking for my comments.
The fact is, this is not a new idea. I presented the concept during budget planning in 2009/2010 as an effort to help address rising concerns about safety on our city’s northeastern border.  It quickly became clear, however, this project was unlikely to become reality without an independent funding source.
Fast forward to now, when it’s been suggested that the city borrow money for this and other construction projects, and suddenly it’s the topic du jour. Everybody (well, lots of people anyway) want to hear my take on whether or not we should break a long-standing debt-free position so that we can build a police station.
I will say this first: we (as in, the police department employees) do not need a new police station. We operate in a building that is less than 20 years old and is completely functional for our work and our mission. Sure, it’s got some problems. The women’s locker room is too small; we have no exercise facility; we are using holding cells to store sensitive equipment; and our video/audio surveillance systems are inadequate. But the truth is that all of these things could be brought up to standard in the existing space for far less than it would cost to build a new building. Any argument in favor of new construction would not be justified, even in part, based on a claim that our working conditions merit a new building.
That being said, I do believe that establishing a new police station, located on 49th Street, is a good idea. There are three primary reasons I make this claim: facility security, improved perception of safety, and economic development.
The current police headquarters is located in a flood zone that requires mandatory evacuation in the event of a major hurricane. Evacuating the building is itself a serious challenge for our operations, but the larger concern is the fact that many critical items (radio tower and transmitters, fuel storage tanks, emergency electric generator) are exposed to a greater risk of flood damage or destruction. It makes sense to have these items in an area with higher elevation, such as the site of the current Neighborhood Center on 49th Street.
“Make 49th Street safer” is a chant I hear all too often. In comparing Gulfport crime rates to those of the Child’s Park neighborhood, I can assure you that our streets and homes are much safer. There is clearly a different expectation of police service from our residents, and I think we do a great job of meeting those expectations. What the people of Gulfport cannot do (and should not try to do, in my opinion) is impose those standards on the city of St. Petersburg. Our neighbors have every right to determine the level of service they expect from their government, and our residents do not and should not have a vote in that decision. After all, I don’t tell my officers to pull back their efforts when St. Petersburg residents complain that they’re too heavy-handed.
Faced with the simple fact that crime of all types is much higher in the communities that share our border to the east, many folks in Gulfport feel unsafe when they live or traverse near that border. This perception was confirmed in a 2010 “survey of community partners,” where respondents from all over Gulfport indicated in high percentages that the 49th Street corridor should get more police attention than other areas of our city. There is also some factual basis to support the negative perception of the area. While overall crime is not necessarily higher in the 49th Street corridor, one type of crime happens to be—robbery. Almost half of all robberies (taking property by force) occur within three blocks of 49th Street.
Many academic studies have been published which discount the belief that police presence decreases crime. On the contrary, several other studies have confirmed that increased police presence can significantly reduce the perception or fear of crime. That may seem superficial, but such an effect is very desirable and can produce exponential benefits. We’ve already done several things to increase police presence on 49th Street. I reconfigured patrol zones so that three (as opposed to two) officers patrol this roadway every shift. I designated the Neighborhood Center parking lot as the preferred location for officers to transfer prisoners from their patrol cars to the transport van. I assigned a community resource officer specifically to focus on problems in the 49th Street redevelopment area, and he works primarily out of an office in the Neighborhood Center. While these things have had some effect, I can think of nothing else that would make the impact of building a conspicuously-placed police headquarters on 49th Street.
Helping people to feel safer is an important part of improving the economic viability of any area. Police presence goes a long way toward this goal, but we also need more legitimate activities that attract people, particularly at night. There are two properties on 49th Street that lend themselves to evening activities. One is the theater, and the other is the former Czech hall, both of which are located in the 1600 block of 49th Street, adjacent to the site where any new police headquarters would likely be built. Being next door to the cop shop would certainly boost the confidence of any prospective investor who may want to open a new, or boost existing business. I would even suggest reserving a portion of the new building for lease to a private enterprise that would attract night-time activity.
Obviously, the council faces a tough decision here. While I maintain that the cops don’t need a new police station, there is no question that there would be significant community benefits to building a new headquarters on 49th Street. The question is, are those benefits worth the costs? How many other city projects would be delayed or eliminated in favor of this one? As our elected officials mull over the data and try to answer that and other questions, I certainly don’t envy them of their task.
Whatever happens, rest assured that the men and women of GPD will continue to do our best to uphold the expectations our residents have established.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Snapshot of Gulfport's Finest

Our professional standards lieutenant, Mary Farrand, gave me some interesting information this afternoon. It turns out the state-maintained database for law enforcement officer certification and training can generate some pretty interesting statistical reports. I'll let the numbers speak for themselves, but it's pretty clear that we're an educated, experienced, and diverse organization.

Some interesting tidbits:
  • Gulfport officers are more than twice as likely to have a college degree when compared to their colleagues around the state.
  • Almost half of GPD officers have at least ten years on the job.

All Florida Agencies Combined
City of Gulfport Population
State of Florida Population
Law Enforcement Experience
Less than one year
Comparable data not applicable
1-3 years
3-5 years
5-10 years
10-15 years
15-20 years
20-25 years
More than 25 years
HS Diploma
Comparable data is not available
Associate’s Degree
Bachelor’s Degree
Graduate Degree

These facts are reflected in our hiring and promotion policies. Police applicants must possess 60 college credit hours or they must have prior law enforcement or military experience. In order to test for promotion to sergeant, candidates must have an associate's degree. To be considered for appointment to lieutenant requires a bachelor's degree, and it is preferred that the chief of police have a master's degree.

Education is valuable in this high-liability profession, but it cannot be the sole ingredient to a successful policing team. As noted above, almost half of GPD officers have at least ten years' service. That kind of experience gives us a tremendous base of knowledge about the community, and combined with the academic credential and a diversity that fairly represents our population, I think we're exactly where we need to be.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Year of Police Fitness Testing

You may have seen us down behind the Gulfport recreation center lately, running around and jumping hurdles, climbing walls, dragging test dummies, and more. This was our second annual physical abilities test, and I’m happy to report that it was very successful!
Beginning in 2012, I implemented a fitness standards and testing program here. This is something I’ve always felt should be essential in law enforcement, and when I was appointed chief in 2010, I set things in motion to make it a reality (up until this point, we had tested applicants prior to employment, but not the incumbent officers). To minimize resistance from the rank and file, I let the officers decide what the standards would be and how they would be applied. A committee of them came to the conclusion that the existing state standards for police applicants would be the best measure.
Although several agencies throughout Florida require their officers to pass fitness tests, Gulfport PD and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office are the only agencies in this county with such programs.
This test starts an officer sitting in a patrol car with the seat belt fastened and his hands on the steering wheel. On the command of “go,” the officer must unfasten the seatbelt, remove the car keys from the glove box, get out of the car, run to the rear of the car, remove two flags from a belt in cross-draw fashion, open the trunk and remove a baton, close the trunk, and then run 220 yards around the ball field. Following the run, the officer must complete an obstacle course consisting of jumping a 40-inch wall, jumping three hurdles of varying height, running serpentine through a 45-foot section of closely-spaced cones, and low-crawling under 27-inch hurdles for eight feet. After the obstacle course, the officer must drag a 150 lb. test dummy for 100 feet, then repeat the obstacle course in reverse and run the 220 yards back to the car. Once back at the car, the officer must open the trunk and remove an unloaded handgun. After dry-firing the handgun six times in each hand, the officer must secure the gun and baton in the trunk, get back in the car, close the door, put the keys back in the glove box, refasten the seat belt, and put his hands back on the steering wheel. When both hands are on the wheel, the clock stops.
The minimum passing time is six minutes and four seconds.
In 2012, our average time was 5:03. This year, the average was 4:39. That’s an improvement of 24 seconds! Overall, 81 percent of officers improved their time compared to last year. The most significant reduced his time by 65 seconds!
In 2012, three officers required two attempts to pass the test. In 2013, all officers passed on their first attempt, and there were no reported injuries.
These results make it clear that the program is working. Officers are getting in better shape so they can more safely and more effectively provide their crucial service with a lower chance of injury or illness.
I also recently conducted a survey of sworn officers on the subject of fitness for duty. Twenty-three of thirty officers responded to the survey. Of these respondents, 83 percent agree that police officers should be required to maintain a specified level of fitness, and only 26 percent oppose routine fitness testing.
I support the program 100%, and from what I hear from residents, I believe the Gulfport community does as well. Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Beach Patrols--Concerns and Answers

I would like to use this venue to provide some feedback to the public on some concerns I've recently been made aware of. Here goes.
Concern #1: Police refuse to enforce city ordinance violations, particularly in the beachfront area
I have never said that Gulfport officers will not enforce code violations. I did say once during a council meeting that officers will enforce state law in any case where the conduct in question violates both a city ordinance and the state statute. This is simply because enforcement of state law is a much more efficient process. It should not have been understood to mean that officers do not enforce ordinance violations.
The fact is-GPD officers routinely enforce code violations. Last year, there were multiple arrests for persons sleeping in public places and bothering residents and visitors. There were arrests (including one by me personally at the beachfront) for persons in possession of open containers of alcohol in public. In total, there were 347 documented incidents of police response to ordinance violations in 2012.
So the question need not be whether we enforce code violations, but how we prioritize that enforcement action. Here are some things to consider on this subject:
a.       If there is a specific complaint about an in-progress violation, an officer will respond and investigate every time. How the officer handles the situation depends on a great many things, but this is critical to understand: enforcement does not mean an arrest or issuance of a citation. The goal is compliance, not punishment.
b.      Police will take proactive enforcement action if there are ongoing violations of a similar nature that either:
                                 i.            Are indicative via professional analysis of contributing to criminal activity or the perception of criminal activity, or
                               ii.            Are the subject of repeated and extensive complaints from residents, visitors, or business owners. Professional analysis has revealed that in 2012, police received 24 complaints about code violations on the beachfront. Nine of those were related to boating violations. That leaves about one complaint per month for other violations, and I believe most would agree that does not constitute repeated or extensive.
c.       Some have suggested that police should enforce ALL code violations regardless of complaints. This is simply not possible. There are thousands of codes. An officer would never make it to the end of a single street if he were to stop, investigate, issue a citation, and complete a report for every single violation he saw. It would be possible to find a code violation of some kind on nearly every property in the city. We must prioritize based on complaints.
d.      Some have suggested that we should prioritize enforcement based on priorities established by the City Council via the passing of new ordinances. While I agree that the sitting council has authority to set priorities, I do not agree that the simple act of passing a new law should establish that law as the enforcement priority. To suggest that new ordinance are somehow more important than existing ordinances, absent some specific direction otherwise, is disrespectful to those (many of whom are still residents) who worked hard to see those laws passed in the first place. In deploying police resources, I will always take my direction from the city council via the city manager, but I will not assume that each new law passed should become our priority.
Concern #2: Police spend very little time patrolling the beach area.
On average, the beachfront area is patrolled four to six times per twelve-hour shift. This does not include patrols by me or either of the two lieutenants. I personally conduct a beach patrol four to five times per week. In total, there were 1,616 logs documenting police activity on Shore Blvd. in 2012.
Concern #3: Police have not done enough to address violations committed by certain children residing in the beachfront area.
While it would be inappropriate to name the children in this blog, the fact is that GPD officers have taken eight offense reports in 2012 regarding these specific children. In each case where the youth have been identified as a suspect in a criminal incident, the officer made an arrest and/or notified the parents. Appropriate referrals to the juvenile court and to the state department of juvenile justice have been made. We have done everything within the authority of the law, and we will continue to do so.
I hope I’ve been able to get some good information out to the public regarding enforcement of code violations on the beachfront. If you would like more information, or if you have additional concerns, please call or e-mail me.
Thank you.