GPD briefs Gainesville commissioners on crime stats, initiatives

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -- At the first Gainesville Police tactical briefing with the Gainesville City Commission in some time, Chief Tony Jones and other GPD staff updated commissioners on crime stats in the city and new initiatives.

One of the main discussions involved current staffing levels at GPD, and the need to hire more sworn officers.

"Right now we have at least 44 officer vacancies through the agency," Campos said. "We're allotted 309 officers, sworn officers, and so those vacancies are a significant hit right now with our staffing."

Another discussion revolved around crime statistics in the city and how they have changed in recent years.

According to the Universal Crime Report, there were 133 auto thefts in Gainesville from January 2019 to April 2019. In the same time period last year, there were 107 thefts.

From January to April of this year, there were 1,206 larcenies, a slight decrease from just over 1,300 last year. Campos said a large amount of these can be attributed to car burglaries.

"They go right down the line and pull on every single car door till they find one open," he said. "When they find one open, they go in there and they take anything of value that they see and they move on. One of the items of value that we see missing from cars a lot are guns."

Campos said people should always lock their car doors, even when they are at home.

Burglaries and aggravated assaults each saw a slight decrease during the January-April time period this year in comparison to last year. Robberies decreased from 66 to 51, and murders decreased from three to one.

Meanwhile, rape numbers are up in the city. Campos said this is because there has been an effort to encourage people to report rape. There were 169 reported rapes last year.

"We have made a lot of strides and put a lot of effort into gaining the trust of survivors of rape to come forward and report rape to us, for a variety of reasons," Campos said. "It's a very difficult and personal thing for rape survivors to do."

When it comes to juvenile arrests, the number of those arrests on school campuses has fallen drastically, from 164 in 2011-12 to just eight this year.

"We worked with the school board prior to putting this policy together to say a lot of the arrests we were making as we analyzed it was because of behavioral issues and the behavioral issues should be handled by school officials and not by law enforcement," Campos said.

Campos and Chief Jones also talked about an intervention program designed to offer individuals facing charges for selling drugs a chance to turn their lives around, often times juveniles.