After more than three decades touring the streets of the community, the Sun City Center Security Patrol still looks for ways to ensure residents and their properties are secure.
“We’re the eyes and ears of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office,” said Bob Powers, the patrol’s new chief. “We’re dedicated to the idea of keeping the community as safe as possible.”
And they do help, said Maj. Ron Hartley, commander of sheriff’s office District IV, based in Ruskin.
“I’ve served in the area on and off for 38 years, and I really appreciate the Sun City Center Security Patrol,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons the community has one of the lowest crime rates in the county.
“When you have people who are actively out looking for suspicious vehicles and activities, it’s a deterrent and makes criminals move elsewhere. (The security patrol) is like a mobile neighborhood watch, neighbors looking out for neighbors.”
Although proud of his organization’s success and its contributions to the community, Powers isn’t content to rest on his laurels.
After assuming leadership of the 1,100-member squad of volunteers in January, he already has set goals for furthering its success.
Thus far he’s done the following:
Begun focusing man-hours on areas where there are problems such as break-ins or thefts, two of the more prevalent crimes in the community.
Taken a look at starting a crime-prevention unit within the patrol to offer free, in-home evaluations to residents on making their homes more secure.
Begun working with the sheriff’s office to register golf carts and bicycles in Sun City Center.
“If I see a problem or issue, I address it,” Powers said.
One such issue is a lawsuit the patrol filed against six former members on Feb. 8 in the 13th Judicial Court of Hillsborough County.
The lawsuit alleges the ex-members tried to unseat the current board over the former chief’s ouster last October.
“It’s sad we had to take this step, but we need to move forward, and this appears to be the only way we can do it,” Powers said. “The turmoil this has caused has created some division in the community, which we would like to see resolved.”
Meanwhile the patrol’s work continues.
Powers points out actual crimes should be reported directly to the sheriff’s office. The patrol can aid someone who’s fallen or in some sort of distress on the road, advise residents who’ve left their garage door open at night or take a Sun City Center resident home from South Bay Hospital after 5 p.m., but its drivers don’t get out of their cars otherwise.
“We drive 15 to 20 miles per hour and take in all that’s going on,” said John Mayoka, a driver since September. “Our role is to report suspicious activity to dispatch, and then dispatch determines if the sheriff’s office should be called.”
The security patrol’s coverage boundaries include all homes and businesses in Sun City Center from U.S. 301 to South Bay Hospital, east to west, and Renaissance to the northern boundary of Del Webb Boulevard.
Kings Point has its own security.
The security patrol’s drivers log more than 177,500 miles in the squad’s five radio-equipped vehicles, and both drivers and dispatchers donate 34,500 hours annually. Each serves at least one, two- to four-hour shift per month.
To volunteer or for more information, call 642-2020.