Giuliani firm may be asked to assess Ocala crime woes

Published: Friday, November 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 31, 2002 at 10:58 p.m.
OCALA - City Councilman Kent Guinn plans to propose that the city hire former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's consulting firm to assess Ocala's vagrancy and crime problem and suggest solutions.
"They have a variety of different experiences on all kinds of subjects dealing with cities," Guinn said. "They'll look at ordinances we have on the books - and ones we need to put in effect as far as crime and vagrancy - how to clean all that up."
Guinn will ask the Ocala City Council on Tuesday to approve spending about $2,000 to bring Bernard Kerik and two other consultants from Giuliani-Kerik LLC to Ocala for two to three days to evaluate the situation. The firm would then make recommendations and provide an estimate of the cost to do the work the city requests.
Kerik was New York's police commissioner during the Sept. 11 attacks.
The council has had complaints recently from downtown business people about transients sleeping and urinating in their doorways. Guinn said New York had a problem with vagrants who would wash windshields while cars were stopped at traffic lights.
"In New York they would arrest them for impeding the flow of traffic," Guinn said. "That's how they got rid of them. There was zero tolerance for that kind of stuff."
The City Council also has had complaints from west side residents about an increase in illegal drug activity in their neighborhoods.
The council has agreed to have a master plan completed on how to revitalize the city's downtown.
"I am not going to let a bunch of vagrants and bums hold up the city from doing revitalization the folks want to do," Guinn said. He said crime is one component to consider in revitalizing the downtown along with education and job training.
Mayor Gerald Ergle, who heads the Police Department, said he does not believe the consultants are necessary.
"I think everything is pretty much under control," Ergle said. "I don't know we have a crime problem that's any greater than any other community of our size, and probably less than most."
The planned proposal stems from problems with vagrants and complaints of a rise in illegal drug activity.

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