TAMPA — The number of reported crimes in Tampa and Hillsborough County continued a sharp downward trend in the first six months of the year.
Crime dipped 9.4 percent from January through June in the unincorporated portions of the county covered by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement crime numbers released on Tuesday. Tampa’s crime rate dropped 9.3 percent.
Officials from the sheriff’s office and Tampa police department both credited smart use of technology, a growing relationship with residents and new crime-fighting initiatives with helping cut crime in an area with a total population of more than 1.2 million people.
Tampa police last year introduced a mapping and information-sharing software that allows officers to follow crime developments in real time, said John Bennett, the Tampa police department’s assistant chief of operations. In the program, officers can create a case management file that can be constantly updated as new information comes in. The information also helps officers quickly recognize emerging crime patterns.
This year, Tampa police initiated a program to work with property managers and residents at 30 apartment complexes in the city to promote a safer environment, Bennett said.
“The more the community works with law enforcement, crime is going to go down,” Bennett said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement numbers track murders, forcible rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, larceny and motor vehicle thefts. Statewide, crime dropped 5.2 percent in the first six months of 2013 compared to the first six months of 2012.
The sheriff’s office has 15 crime analyst to analyze local crime statistics and determine trends, said sheriff’s Col. Donna Lusczynski.
The information helps the agency decide where and how to deploy its resources, she said.
The sheriff’s office also focuses on prolific offenders and works with the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office to get a “proper sentence,” Lusczynski said.
“When we put certain people in jail, crime in the area is significantly reduced,” Lusczynski said. “Those people who were committing repeat offenses are in jail and aren’t committing them.”