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Gulfport Crime Watch wants to work with Childs Park group

The groups share a border.

By JON WILSON
Published May 6, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG - They share a common border - and often the same disorder and crime.

So the Gulfport Crime Watch wants to link arms with its fledgling counterpart in Childs Park and cooperate.

The more people looking out for one another on each side of 49th Street S, the better off everyone will be, said Gulfport coordinator Ernest Stone.

St. Petersburg's Childs Park is east of 49th Street. Gulfport is on the street's west side, beginning at Ninth Avenue S just south of the Pinellas Trail.

"I'm sure we've arrested people out of Gulfport and they've arrested people out of St. Pete, " said St. Petersburg police Maj. John Gardner. "I think it's a good idea that we try to work together."

So far, the effort has been slow to gain momentum, though representatives from both sides of the street have attended meetings.

"We don't have too many people involved in it yet, " said Johnny Harris, the St. Petersburg Police Department's crime prevention officer.

Separate from the citizens' Crime Watch activity, Mayor Rick Baker announced in September a community improvement campaign for Childs Park. It carries many of the same themes the city has put to work in Midtown for the past several years: economic development, housing improvement and crime reduction, for example.

About 200 residents and officials attended when Baker announced the initiative at Childs Park Community Center. Gulfport Mayor Mike Yakes was among them.

Stone said he hasn't been able to contact Childs Park Crime Watch leaders, at least lately. He said he thinks other concerns may be on their mind.

"We're moving kind of slowly with it because I know St. Pete is doing some economic things. It is maybe one of the reasons they haven't gotten back with me, " Stone said.

Childs Park Crime Watch leaders didn't return phone calls last week.

A Gulfport Crime Watch meeting is 7 p.m. on May 14 at the Gulfport Neighborhood Center, 1617 49th St. S.

"St. Pete is more than welcome, " Stone said.

Childs Park is between 34th and 49th streets S, bounded by Fifth and 18th avenues.

Twin Brooks, a smaller neighborhood just to the south that also borders Gulfport, is also forming a Crime Watch. Its next meeting is 7 p.m. May 17 at the Islamic Center, 3762 18th Ave. S.

"We're trying to put the neighbor back in the 'hood, ' " spokesman Kevin Johnson said.

[Last modified May 5, 2007, 18:22:37]


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