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Pasco County deputies double up while responding to calls

Posted at 6:39 PM, Jul 26, 2016
Pasco County deputies are now doubling up on how they respond to calls for help.
 
It comes after a heightened danger for law enforcement following a string of deadly shootings targeting law enforcement officers. 
 
ABC Action News has learned the policy change is creating security concerns and added cost for some residents. 
 
On a typically quiet street in Pasco County’s Valencia Gardens neighborhood, people are worried about increased speeds on a lengthy straightaway. 
 
“It’s a common complaint. The board gets a lot of complaints about it,” said resident Paul Spector. 
 
Leaders in the Land O’ Lakes neighborhood took action, hiring an off-duty deputy to patrol the area twice a week. 
 
“It discourages people. They might get a ticket or warning and it discourages people,” said Spector. 
 
But they’ve scrapped the hired security patrols this week, creating new safety concerns for parents. 
 
“The speed limit is 20 for a reason.  So, that way if you see a kid come out, you got plenty of time to stop, but if you’re going 30, 35 miles per hour, that poses a risk for the children,” said Spector. 
 
The cost of an off-duty officer jumped from $160 per shift to $320 per shift. 
 
Churches and neighborhood groups are now forced to pay for an extra deputy. 
 
"There was a significant impact to the folks that contract our deputy sheriffs,” said Capt. James Steffens with the Pasco Co. Sheriff’s Office. "We recognize that, we understand that.”
 
Deputies are responding to calls for help in teams of two. 
 
Pasco County calling it a proactive policy following a deadly month for law enforcement officers. 
 
“For us to go through the door and have that deputy realize he or she has someone going through that door with them is a very, very good feeling for that deputy,” said Capt. Jeffens. “Even though there’s no assurances of what happens on the other side.” 
 
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says around a dozen groups have canceled its security contracts. But the new policy is only temporary and is being reviewed on a week-by-week basis. 
 
Even though Valencia Gardens plans to cut back its hired help next month, Spector says he supports the reasons behind the price hike. 
 
“It’s not because they’ve arbitrarily decided to raise the costs. It’s about officer safety.”