LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Despite tough budget cuts, Sheriff Mike Scott is celebrating a decrease in crime in Lee County, for the third straight year in a row. He talked candidly with WINK News about how the agency is targeting crimes and how they plan to tackle offenses on the rise.
Resources are being cut, but still overall crime is down by 10% in Lee County. New numbers show violent offenses are down about 4% from 2009, with non-violent crimes curbed by 11%.
"We're excited about it, but we also understand that we have to remain guarded, remain vigilant and try to continue this trend," Sheriff Scott said Wednesday.
Despite the tough economy, residential burglaries are down by about 19%....a statistic Sheriff Scott credits to enhanced community watch programs.
"I think people are more fed up than ever with the crime, and they're taking stock in their community," Scott said.
While the Sheriff's Office was forced to scale back substation hours due to budget shortfalls, they're still seeing a decrease in crime many of their districts, including Lehigh Acres.
"Substations don't catch criminals. Substations don't solve crimes. The men and women of the Sheriff's Office out in the streets. So even if the substation is closed at 4 o'clock in the morning, I can assure you the Sheriff's Office is not closed," Scott said.
Now, the Sheriff's Office is keeping close watch on crimes on the rise like counterfeit crimes, by heightening patrols on I-75.
"Interstate interdiction is a science. There are specific cues and indicators to look for. And we most certainly are trained for that," Scott said.
Later this week, Sheriff Mike Scott plans to meet with Florida's other 66 Sheriffs at a Jacksonville conference to discuss trends in crime in the state, and ideas on how to better address them.