TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa's interim police chief is preparing to go before City Council with a new proposal to keep communities safe. Council members asked him to return after a heated two-hour debate about the department's crime-free multi-housing program.
"The whole goal of this is us working with the community to make everybody safer," Interim Police Chief Ruben Delgado said.
Interim Chief Delgado said the Tampa Police Department (TPD) will not use the crime-free multi-housing program brand going forward.
"We're going to incorporate everything that we're doing citywide into one program called S.A.F.E., which is Safety and Awareness for Everyone," Delgado said. "Under S.A.F.E., the neighborhood watch component will be there. The business watch component, which is a successful one that we have with business owners. And now the apartment communities will all be under this one community-involved community partnership."
A TPD spokesperson told ABC Action News the department will no longer provide arrest information to landlords and won't be a member of the national program that started in the early 90s.
Delgado said his team reviewed the program that lasted a month and resulted in an aspect he's super proud of.
"We've built an online interactive dashboard. So wherever you live in the city, whatever neighborhood you're in, you can go on and pick the neighborhood and you will see exactly every call that the police officers are working," he said.
Delgado said that dashboard will also include a link to request public records about those crimes and another to leave a tip to help investigators.
In the press release for Delgado's media availability, it mentioned the Tampa Bay Times investigation. The paper alleges hundreds were affected because of the crime-free multi-housing program. Many times, entire families facing eviction.
But the department, with the help of the city attorney's office, disputes that fact. A portion of the press release reads:
"The Tampa City Attorney's Office looked at 529 notices of arrest provided to property managers participating in that program over the past five years and cross-checked them to public eviction records. Only EIGHT eviction cases were filed, and NONE of those were based solely on a notice of arrest."
ABC Action News reached out to the Tampa Bay Times. The paper's spokesperson, Sherri Day, responded saying, "We stand by our story and our detailed analysis of the program.
Interim Chief Delgado will appear at the Tampa City Council Meeting on Thursday, December 2. It starts at 9 a.m.