In response to a string of armed robberies, the Gainesville Police Department will deploy 25 more officers per shift in an attempt to not only catch robbers faster but also deter them from committing the crimes.
The extra officers have been taken from almost every department within the agency, including personnel, training and administration.
Interim Chief Tony Jones and Maj. Rick Hanna decided this would be the best way to combat the recent uptick in robberies, said GPD spokesman Keith Kameg
Last weekend there were about 12 robberies in Gainesville with six of them occurring Friday night. So far this year, there have been about 50 more robberies than there were at this time in 2008, Kameg said.
Since Tuesday, there have been 35 to 50 officers patrolling per shift instead of the 18 to 25 officers normally on duty, Kameg said.
The majority of the robberies are occurring on or near Southwest 20th Avenue, Kameg said.
Known by police as the Juliet zone, the area was annexed to Gainesville on June 1. Since then, Kameg said there have been about 15 robberies in that zone. Ten of them occurred over the past weekend.
"We will be in zero-tolerance mode in that area," he said
Most of the newly deployed officers will be concentrated in the Juliet zone, he said adding GPD has seen an increase of robbers in that area targeting Hispanics.
GPD will request $40,000 from the Gainesville City Commission for the department's state forfeiture account, which is made up of money the department recovers from drug investigations, Kameg said.
"We do not want to use any of the taxpayer's dollars to fund this surge," he said.
Kameg said the incident that sparked the surge occurred last week when a 71-year-old man was attacked in his yard, brought into his house and bound to a chair with duct tape. The robbers then rummaged through his belongings.