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Orlando police chief touts a reduction in violent crimes

The Orlando Police Department reported seizing 489 "crime guns" between Sept. 1 and Feb. 1.
Submitted photo
Orlando Police Department
The Orlando Police Department reported seizing 489 "crime guns" between Sept. 1 and Feb. 1.

Orlando Police Chief Eric Smith said his efforts since taking office a little more than six months ago have resulted in an 8% decrease in violent crimes and a 12% drop in shootings.

The statistics are for September through January, compared to the same five months a year earlier. There were 176 shootings, which was down from 199, and 2,632 violent crimes, compared to nearly 2,900.

At a press conference Thursday, Smith said the department has seized nearly 50 percent more guns and the homicide clearance rate has improved.

"When I first took office," Smith said, "I outlined my top priorities as chief of police: reduce violent crime and build neighborhood relations. Through reorganization, collaboration between units and the dedication of all members of this agency, we are working together to accomplish this mission."

The chief said one of his first actions was to bring back the patrol tactical -- or TAC -- unit, which focuses on getting guns and drugs off the streets.

"Their mission is to directly impact violent crime," Smith said. "These units have proven in the past to help with the reduction of violent crime. And as you can see today, they have been effective."

OPD bulked up the size of patrol squads from 10 to 12 officers and changed the mission of drug enforcement, gang and fugitive investigation units to "focus them exclusively on violent offenders," Smith said.

Joe Byrnes came to Central Florida Public Media from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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