Crime in Florida
"We always need to remain vigilant," Gov. Charlie Crist warned his audience Tuesday.
A step ahead however, the Gainesville Police Department formed its Violent Crimes Task Force last February to provide an immediate response team for the city.
"We're out there doing traffic stops, contacting known drug dealers and if we make an arrest, a lot of times, we'll bring them back to the station and interview them to develop intelligence," Sgt. Michael Schibuola explained. "Then we turn that around, work with detectives to try and close some other major cases."
Traffic stops and drug deals are not considered violent crimes, but with violent crimes increasing by over 3,500 incidents in Florida, Schibuola said it's important to be proactive when it comes to the war on crime.
"They're always something we need to look at before they become worse situations," he said.
Violent crimes with firearms increased nearly 13 percent across the state last year, but in Gainesville, the Violent Crimes Task Force has taken more than 20 weapons off the streets and made over 120 arrests since its inception in February. Part of the reason for their success is that every division of the police department is represented in the task force.
"We're clearing these cases a lot faster. Normally it might take three to four weeks for detectives to follow up on it. Hopefully, by getting out there quicker and having more resources, we're clearing more cases," Schibuola said.
The task force was created as a temporary response team meant to be dissolved this month, but have been extended indefinitely because of their record.
"They're not always violent criminals, but we do get a lot of criminals off the road," Schibuola said.
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News.
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