Crime down in Gulfport in 2010

By Kristy Wolski, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A recent report shows crime in Gulfport is dropping significantly.

Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent said he's not surprised the total number of crimes dropped from 2009 to 2010.

"I think the biggest thing was we re-focused the mission," Vincent said. "Instead of just answering calls, we put officers out there under direction. They need to solve problems."

The total number of crimes dropped significantly in two areas: auto thefts and burglaries. In 2009, the number of auto thefts was 79. In 2010, that number dropped to 33.

There were 165 reported burglaries in 2009. In 2010, 103 burglaries were reported.

Vincent said he believes several changes contributed to the drop. For one, his officers are no longer rotating through different patrol zones. They are now assigned to the same area all the time.

"That better enables them to meet the people who live and work there," he said. "Those people can then, in turn, express to the police what the problems are and how they can solve them."

Police officers are also now working closely with the St. Petersburg Police Department along the border between the two cities. Together the two agencies run several special operations.

"In those operations, we made at least a dozen arrests of people for dealing drugs, selling stolen property, stealing cars, all kinds of things," Vincent said.

Vincent said the department is making a big outreach effort in the community. For instance, there have been several meetings with residents. In addition, the department is now on Facebook.

Arson was the only type of crime that increased from 2009 to 2010, with reported instances rising from two to nine.

Here is a comparison of some of the differences in the numbers of arrests between 2009 and 2010:

Violent Crime Murder Robbery Property Crime Burglary Motor Vehicle Theft Total
2009 56 1 23 624 165 79 680
2010 41 0 15 466 103 33 507
Diff. -27% -100% -35% -25% -38% -58% -25%