Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Phil Acaba was born with crime fighting in his blood.
As the son of a New York City police officer, Acaba, 50, knew from a young age he was either going to enter the military or serve the community behind the badge. The question of which was answered when Acaba left his native Long Island to attend the University of Tampa. After graduating in the 1980s, he joined the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and has been a deputy ever since.
Twenty-seven years later, Acaba, 50, is still serving those in need.
As the community resource deputy for such neighborhoods as Citrus Park, Westchase, Keystone and Odessa, Acaba is tasked with taking a different approach to law enforcement. Rather than run from call to call, Acaba works with neighborhoods and businesses to address crime-related concerns. He also scans the area’s crime statistics for trends that demand investigation, such as repeat calls for service from particular addresses. Once a problem is identified, Acaba works with patrol deputies, residents, other county agencies and specific units within the sheriff’s office, such as street crimes, to seek out solutions to end ongoing crime complaints.
“Our focus now is reducing burglaries, criminal mischiefs (and other repetitive crimes) in assigned areas,” Acaba said of the CRD program.
Hillsborough County’s community resource deputy program launched in the early 1990s when federal funding paved the way for agencies across the country to put more officers on the beat to focus specifically on community oriented policing. Although the federal grants have long since dried up, Hillsborough’s sheriff’s office has made funding its own version of the program a priority.
“These deputies act as the sheriff’s liaison (with) the community,” said sheriff’s office Capt. Chad Chronister. “When you want to talk about an amazing program (this is it). It’s because the community gets a more personal touch.”
Acaba has been involved in the community resource deputy program for five years. He started his tenure in Town ‘N Country and was later assigned to the Citrus Park/Westchase area.
When asked what residents can do to help him keep their neighborhoods safe, Acaba simply said keep their eyes open and don’t be afraid to call the sheriff’s office if something looks amiss.
Residents should “be the best witnesses they can be,” he said. Even if something seems inconsequential, “it could lead to something bigger.”
For more information about sheriff’s office programs, visit the agency online at http://www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/.