SOUTHWEST ORANGE With summertime coming to a close, residents of Orange County’s District 1 gathered recently to hear updates on current crime trends.
Orange County Sheriff’s Office and District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey hosted a Public Safety Town Hall on Thursday, Aug. 24, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. About 20 residents who attended got to hear officers discuss crime and how they are working to keep the community safe.
Capt. Carlos Torres, a section commander for OCSO’s Sector III — which includes Winter Garden, Ocoee, Windermere, Dr. Phillips and MetroWest — told residents that according to a recent uniform crime report, violent crime in the area is down 15%. Non-violent crime, he said, is down 6%. Additionally, Torres said, there has been a year-to-date decrease in auto burglaries.
“That’s our biggest problem in Orange County — auto burglaries,” Torres said. “It’s not only exclusive to Orange County, it’s a nationwide issue. … Auto burglaries are our biggest challenge. They’re at times some of our biggest challenges to investigate and to prosecute. Why? Because they happen so quickly. A large percentage of the ones who are committing these crimes are under the age of 18. Sometimes, they’re 12, 13 or 14 years old.”
Torres also gave residents some insight into why crime happens and his sector’s approach to reduce it. Crime, he said, is based on three elements — desire, ability and opportunity.
“There’s two of those things that we have no control of — the desire and ability,” he said. “Where do we come into play? By reducing the opportunity. The majority of the crimes that we have probably could have been prevented if there was some type of opportunity for reduction.”
Sector III’s approach to crime reduction includes targeting specific groups of offenders or areas to deter, disrupt and apprehend violators. Technology and enforcement, along with patrol-placement strategy, is also an important aspect of crime reduction.
Deputy First Class Yehuda Green added that effective crime prevention includes crime-prevention education, neighborhood watches, crime-free multi-housing efforts and community alerts.
“We need to all be looking out for one another,” Green said. “If you see something, say something. This is what it’s all about — watching out for one another.”
Residents also were encouraged to ask questions of the officers in attendance. Queries ranged from traffic-control issues to area coverage, to which Torres added that OCSO is currently hiring.
“We have a consulting firm studying how we’re populated, and they will deliver a report the sheriff to tell him where opportunities are being missed or what is going right,” Torres said. “The sheriff proposed to the (Orange County) Board of County Commissioners a pay increase for deputies because we have the best, but in order to keep them we have to pay them like they’re the best. … That is in hopes that we can definitely pay our personnel what they need to get paid and retain our personnel. Not only is OCSO looking, everyone is looking for manpower.”
For more information on OCSO’s approaches to crime prevention, visit ocso.com/Crime-Information/Crime-Prevention.
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].