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Updated: 03/12/2014 08:00:03AM

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Bartow Police Chief Joseph Hall

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Recently we released some statistical data to the local media regarding the crime rate in Bartow for 2013.

You could probably tell by the article’s content in The Polk County Democrat that, as your chief of police, I am very pleased with the end result for last year. I know you may be weary of me harping repeatedly about the crime rates, crime numbers and what we could accomplish if we worked a little harder. Sometimes, however, we just need a gentle reminder that with a little more cooperation we can do better. Therefore, we must unite as a community, to make our city a safe place to work, live and play.

Property crime continues to be our primary issue. Because we have a relatively low full-time population in Bartow, it doesn’t take many thefts and burglaries to skew our numbers. Also, remember that we are the county seat. Monday through Friday, Bartow swells to an estimated population of over 30,000 people commuting to work. Your police department has many hard working men and women trying to make a positive difference in our community; and it shows. Since 2008, our property crime numbers in Bartow have been reduced by 26 percent overall. That number fluctuates, but the end results reflect a reduction.

Since 2010, the police department has been gathering data so that we could identify and formulate a plan of attack to put a stop to property crimes. Despite my nagging, the one number that does not seem be changing is the secured property versus unsecured property when a theft or burglary occurs. This one is on you.It is your property, protect it. If you see something, say something. Watch out for your neighbor.

Call the police if you see suspicious behavior and report it. Tell your neighbor if you notice their garage door is open, car door unlocked, etc. Look out for one another. The court system is not going to lock away non-violent criminals for the rest of their lives. Even if we catch them, arrest them and they get sentenced to jail time, they will eventually be released.

These crimes are typically committed by opportunistic criminals. If it is an easy target, they will act.

This year, BPD will put more focus on the prevention aspect. That is where I need your help, and I am asking you to join me in making Bartow a safer place. You can make this venture a success or a failure.

As always, don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have questions, 863-534-5034.

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