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Area gets more police power

Because of the community's growing population, two additional police officers will begin patroling New Tampa, probably in about six months.

By MELANIE AVE

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000


CROSS CREEK -- Police Chief Bennie Holder gave crime-conscious New Tampa residents welcome news Thursday.

Two additional Tampa police officers will be assigned to cover their master-planned communities starting Oct. 1, bringing the total number to 24, including supervisors.

New Tampa has one of the lowest crime rates in the area, but it is among the fastest growing.

That's why Holder said the additional officers are necessary to keep the amount of police protection in sync with the population. In addition, he said the new positions are necessary to make sure the existing officers have sufficient backups in emergencies.

"Two officers may not seem like very many, but two extra patrol cars will help an awful lot," Holder told the New Tampa Community Council, which met Thursday at the New Tampa Regional Library.

Residents said they are delighted to have more officers patrolling the area.

"With all that increase in people coming in here, I'm worried about increasing crime," said Carol Poland, Neighborhood Watch coordinator for Hunter's Green. "You have more accidents, more disputes. You need more officers."

Holder said he originally requested six new positions for New Tampa, but budgetary constraints prevented such an increase. And, he said, he has had to be careful about the numberof requests he makes regarding New Tampa, where he lives.

While the two positions take effect Oct. 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year, Holder said it could be six months before the new officers start working. It will take several months to hire and train them and purchase their patrol cars.

He said it costs about $50,000 to hire a new police officer and another $30,000 for each patrol car.

"It's not cheap," Holder said.

City police officers in New Tampa are now based at Fire Station 20 on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and the Tampa Police Department's District 2 office on 30th Street.

The announcement comes as several New Tampa neighborhood watch groups are preparing for National Night Out events Tuesday.

Various Tampa Palms neighborhoods will have pizza and dessert parties from 7-10 p.m. Hundreds in Hunter's Green will gather from 6-8 p.m. at Nathaniel Hunter Community Park. The event, which is open only to Hunter's Green residents, will feature a police helicopter, bike parade, police dog, and self-defense demonstrations as well as food and drinks.

- Melanie Ave can be reached at (813) 226-3473 or melanie@sptimes.com.

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