Crime and safety is a top issue – and always has been for me! While my opponent is very good at talking about it, she isn’t offering any innovative solutions. Moreover, until she became a candidate, she had not even attended a Neighborhood Watch Group in her own neighborhood. Some of her proposals – collaborate with OPD, identify practices that make our neighborhoods vulnerable to car crime, develop a strategy, implement, evaluate and share data with our neighbors. That’s what we are doing. but there’s more to do.
When I was elected, some advised me to withhold serious crime information in order to make our neighborhoods look good. That’s preposterous! I believe that accurate data needs to go out because our citizens deserve to know what is happening. Public safety shouldn’t be a political battle ground.
Immediately, I instructed our District 3 Liaison Officer, Cpl. Kevlon Kirkpatrick, to complete daily crime updates and share them with each Neighborhood Watch Block Captain, which he has for more than 10 years. I supported NICS (Neighborhood Internet Crime Spotters), run by a local crime prevention advocate which provides accurate public information to our residents. (It’s an effective project that has saved property and helped identify and arrest criminals.)
But that wasn’t enough. I asked our citizens to get involved in their neighborhoods. As a result, District 3 has the largest number of Neighborhood Watch Groups of any district in the city, as well as the largest number of citizen participants. I’m so proud of how our community has responded. But we still need more involvement, so we keep on trying. While I was attending hundreds of Neighborhood Watch meetings in homes throughout District 3, my opponent was absent, even in her own neighborhood, until she decided to run for office. We need active partners, not spectators, to make our neighborhoods safer.
When vehicle crime went up, I created a program called Operation Lock It Up and implemented it throughout District 3 and the City of Orlando. While my opponent has criticized it, it was effective at creating awareness of the importance of securing your car and home. Vehicle crime went down! A few months ago, I asked our OPD Chief to install public awareness signs in parking lots reminding citizens to lock their vehicles and remove valuables from their car.
OPD leadership continues to help by providing tactical squads, additional patrols and other resources to curb crime.
When the rapid growth of southeast Orlando caused resources to shift, I asked Mayor Dyer for more police officers so that our neighborhoods would continue to have the same level of service. In the budget passed in September, the Council voted to add 30 additional officers and 18 new firefighters. This will bring more resources to District 3, where they belong.
Crime and crime prevention must, and has been, a central mission of our city and police force. This is why I’m proud to be endorsed by Orlando police officers and will continue working together with OPD to solve problems.
I am sick to my stomach every time I speak to a victim of crime, knowing that person’s feelings of safety have been compromised. Hearing their stories motivates me to work harder to keep our neighborhoods safe. I am also proud of the partnership I have with my liaison officer, who has stood beside me since my first day in office, working tirelessly for my constituents. He has visited with so many of our residents and business owners, doing security surveys, hosting Neighborhood and Business Watch Meetings, teaching self defense, assisting victims of crime, and providing accurate and timely crime data not only to our residents, but to our patrol officers. But there is still more to do because even one crime is too many.
We need experience in City Hall, not just a bunch of political promises. We have more to do and I’m asking for your vote on November 7.