In November 2016, Chief David Alexander told the Pensacola City Council that little could be done about the rise of homicides inside the city limits. Over the first 10 months of last year, the city had seven murders, which tied the 2012 total that earned the city the moniker as one of the most dangerous small cities in the nation.
Inweekly reported on the rise of murders but few others covered the problem. However, Chief Alexander didn’t appear to be alarmed.
“I have to say with the violent crimes we really don’t have, other than having an officer placed in everyone’s home, there’s not a whole lot of things you can that to really control and mitigate issues like homicides,” Chief Alexander said during his monthly report to the council.
Pensacola Police Department listened. Assistant Chief Tommi Lyter developed a plan to step up PPD’s street presence.
In early December 2016, PPD announced it would saturate areas within city limits at various times in an effort to address the increase in gun violence.
“We’re doing this because we must remain vigilant in keeping our streets and neighborhoods safe for all of our citizens, especially during the holidays when everyone wants to be able to celebrate with family and friends,” said Chief Alexander in a press release.
A year later, Pensacola Police Department spokesman Mike Wood reported the City of Pensacola had no homicides in 2017, according to preliminary crime statistics released this week.
“The last time the city of Pensacola went a single year without a homicide was in 1990,” Wood said in a statement Wednesday. “In fact, the last homicide committed in the city was 14 months ago in October of 2016.”
Congratulations to Chief Lyter and his troops. The plan worked.
Would a plan have been developed without the media shining a light on the problem?
Maybe, but our reporting definitely got the issue before the public. And fortunately, Chief Lyter was willing to listen and admit PPD could do more.