GPD seeking residents’ help


Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 2:56 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 2:56 p.m.

Some Gainesville police officers are showing off their acting skills — and their adoitness at stepping — in a new video to launch an effort to convince the public to report crime or suspicious activity.

The video premiered at a GPD open house held last Wednesday night, where Chief Tony Jones outlined the agency's goals for the year, which include heightened community involvement and getting officers in better touch with the community.

"We are asking our personnel to get out of their vehicles and into the neighborhoods," Jones said. "Every night is going to be night out."

GPD announced the Step Up, Stop Crime initiative to get residents to call police when they see a crime in progress or some activity that could turn into a crime.

A video for the initiative shows — with officers as the actors — a burglary being committed. Neighbors watch it and call police, leading to arrests.

The message is reinforced at the end with the cops doing a step-dance routine. Cpl. Fernando Zaragoza came up with the idea for the step routine, which drew a good response from residents who attended the meeting at Gainesville High School.

It can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=As53Img8ORs&feature=youtube.

Jones and various officer recapped crime in 2012, which saw overall reductions from the previous year and included several prominent cases.

Those cases include the murder of University of Florida student Christian Aguilar, the fatal beating of 78-year-old Paul Quandt in a home-invasion robbery and the disappearance of resident Omar Jabree Gibson, said Lt. Will Halvosa.

Halvosa added that crime is down so far this year compared to the same period in 2012.

The crime reductions were credited to several initiatives, including targeted police response, notices to residents on preventing car theft and burglaries, programs aimed at keeping kids out of trouble and positive relationships with businesses.

"If it's a problem to you, it's important to us," said Maj. Rick Hanna.

In addition to the Step Up, Stop Crime initiative, police in 2013 are stepping up a special operations unit, the police reserve and auxiliary programs and an expansion of the Citizens on Patrol program.

Residents voiced concerns ranging from videos made by local teens that are showing up on the Internet to the out-of-control stapling of nightclub fliers on poles and trees in certain neighborhoods. Several speakers praised the department as well.

Cindy Swirko is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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