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Gainesville commissioners approve $600K to GPD for crime mitigation

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 6:31 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Approval from the Gainesville city commission is granting GPD more than $600,000 American Rescue Plan dollars, meant to mitigate violent crimes in the city.

“I do think this is both an appropriate and urgent need for the use of ARP funding,” said Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe.

GPD calculated a 14% increase in violent crimes from 2020 to 2021 prompting the department’s ‘One Community Initiative’ meant to make that number go down.

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“Having pilot programs housed within police departments does just that, it breaks down barriers that can’t necessarily be broken down in other ways,” said Reichert House Executive Director, John Alexander.

As a part of the $621,000 request, a new public safety coordinator position would bring the Police Activities League to Gainesville. It’s meant to engage “at-risk” kids in sports, academics and recreation at a cost of $68,000 for the coordinator job.

“But when you look at say a public safety coordinator that’s specifically going to be addressing our youth population, is that best housed within the police department or is that something best housed within the youth services division,” asked Poe.

The bulk of the ARP funds granted to GPD is going towards forensics.

“And the forensic crime unit, it’s not just for shootings, it’s for any kind of violent crimes,” said Commissioner Reina Saco.

Totaling more than $270,000, the forensic equipment investment includes a new vehicle and an automated ballistics imaging system called Brasstracks.

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“It’s best that we have the ability to really make those victims feel heard and that’s something that’s happening,” added Saco. “I say that as a victim of violent crime. If you, ‘ah we couldn’t do anything there’s nothing else we can do meh’, that hurts and that stays with you and that’s what you remember about your engagement with the police.”

Although, public comments and a commissioner expressed their skepticism with spending the bulk of the funds on forensic equipment and upgrades.

“So I’m not really interested in forensic equipment,” mentioned Commissioner David Arreola. “I’m interested in putting in as much funding as we can not just with the Gainesville Police Department but with as many community initiatives, whether they’re with our government or with partners, that are going to be able to address the very front.”

The funds were unanimously approved by commissioners during the general policy meeting.

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