AP public safety report
JOE SEELIGAVON PARK - Police Public Safety Director John King said he was given the task of reorganizing both the police and fire departments.
Published: June 15, 2012
Published: June 15, 2012
As he took on his position he set a number of objectives, he said.
"The overall goal of the public safety director is to provide the highest level of professional police, fire-rescue and code enforcement services to the community with the available resources and budget," he said.
Among the goals for the fire department included establishment of an employee evaluation program, to reinforce a proactive business inspection program, train additional firefighters as inspectors, and to develop a self-inspection program for businesses.
The fire department is also in the process of making some facility repairs on the exterior of the building including landscaping and hopes to get funding to make some interior repairs as well as the completion of an exhaust vacuum system to protect firefighters from dangerous diesel fumes.
For the police department he plans to initiate a community policing program to develop partnerships with the community and find innovative ways for the department to get involved in the community.
"Reinvigorating communities is essential if we are to deter crime and create more vital neighborhood," he said. "In some communities it will take time to break down barriers of apathy and mistrust so that meaningful partnerships can be forged."
King gave a presentation Monday demonstrating the progress he's made thus far.
He showed a page with county and municipal offense data for 2011.
Avon Park Police was second in the county in arrests with 679. The Highlands County Sheriff's Office made 3,062; Sebring made 478 and Lake Placid had 118 arrests.
The county had two murders and the three municipalities had none.
However, the crime rate in Avon Park was up by 25.9 percent from 2010. Highlands County was up by 8.9 percent; Lake Placid was down 22.8 percent and Sebring was up 4.4 percent.
In 2011, Avon Park had four reported rapes, 14 robberies, 37 aggravated assaults, 153 burglaries, 291 cases of larceny, seven motor vehicle thefts and cleared 31.4 percent of its cases.
The sheriff's office recorded 10 rapes, 24 robberies, 155 aggravated assaults, 630 burglaries, 1,128 larcenies, and 70 motor vehicle thefts with a 32.1 percent clearance rate.
Lake Placid recorded two rapes, five robberies, six aggravated assaults, 26 burglaries, 65 larcenies, and 0 vehicle thefts with a 46.2 percent clearance rate.
Sebring had one rape, three robberies, 31 aggravated assaults, 147 burglaries, 358 larcenies, and 13 motor vehicle thefts with a 26.4 percent clearance rate.
One of the cool new items King spoke of was a VIDMIC, which is a recording device to be worn on police officers' chest areas that can both film and record any confrontations or conversations in which officers are involved.
These will enhance the officers' safety, reduce frivolous lawsuits and agency liability, increase the likelihood of successful prosecution, etc.
"At the end of their shift they will take the VIDMIC plug it into a computer and it dumps it into a master system," King said.
He showed the organizational charts of both the police and fire departments, followed by a new organizational chart as they are now.
"At that time the police department had 23 sworn officers including its command staff, and six civilian employees…," he said. "Shortly thereafter we did some restructuring due to budgetary restraints; we moved our records custodian to city hall and divided the records management responsibilities between the confidential secretary and our evidence custodian."
"We also reduced our code enforcement officers to part-time status and then transferred one of those code enforcement officers to city hall to serve in public works and the water department on a full-time basis."
King also made changes in the fire department.
"The fire department at that same time was staffed with 16 employees who consisted of 15 firefighters and a confidential secretary," King said. "Capt. David Cloud at the time served as interim fire chief and fire inspector working predominantly day shift.
"We tried to streamline our budget with little or no impact to the services we provide to our citizens."
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