Get-tough policies against transient crime have contributed to a 49% decline in incidents in the first quarter of 2009 compared to 2008.
Newly released statistics show from Jan. 1 to March 31 the number of transient arrests in the city of Sarasota dropped 73%. The only crime committed by transients that rose from the first quarter of 2008 was residential and business burglaries, which went from six to nine. (See chart, page 4).
Lt. Jeff Karr credits a year-old policy that calls for officers to make arrests or issue summonses every time a transient breaks a law. They no longer issue warnings for things such as open container or use of foul language.
“People used to get multiple warnings,” Karr said. “You have four shifts of officers, and one officer didn’t know that two days earlier another officer gave a similar warning to the same person.”
Although the police department counted 64 more transients in the first quarter of 2009 than the fourth quarter of 2008, for a total of 1,059, the percentage of crimes committed by those transients has declined by about half.
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