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Sheriff’s substation relocating in retirement center

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image HCSO SCC Community Resource Officer Chris Girard. Melody Jameson Photo

HCSO SCC substation to move in June

By MELODY JAMESON

SUN CITY CENTER – To gain more space for added personnel and greater service, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s community resource office here is being relocated.

And, the new, larger, designated digs are very close to the old one, according to Major Ron Hartley, the HCSO’s District IV commander.

A two-member community resource unit including CR Deputy Chris Girard and Community Service Officer Donna Budd are to be headquartered in the former Pelican Room, situated immediately east of the former office and in the heart of the Central Campus complex. With this allocation of personnel, “the fullest interpretation of community policing can be realized,” Hartley noted.

Current plans call for completing the relocation from inside the SCC Security Patrol offices to the easily accessed new quarters in late June, Hartley said.

“We’ve wanted to do this for six months, or more,” Hartley told The Observer Friday when asked about continuing talk of such a move. “We’ve discussed it at length with Sheriff (David) Gee and have concluded the time has come” to implement a relocation for several reasons.

One of them is that the scams and frauds which target mature retirees grow more numerous, sophisticated and complex with each passing season, Hartley noted. “Traveling criminal elements see the trusting retired population as a high priority for rip-off and we want to focus more specialized attention in that area in SCC,” he added.

Budd, a 32-year veteran with the HCSO, has specific training in white collar crimes perpetrated against the elderly, Hartley pointed out, adding she also has “considerable experience” in community law enforcement work.

Budd, a South Hillsborough County native, served as a community service officer in Ruskin for many years and has been involved in a number of area charitable activities, including the annual holiday Deputies Darlin’s campaign to collect and distribute toys to local youngsters who otherwise might be missed during the rushed late December Santa Claus run.

As CSO in the new Sun City Center offices, Budd will be available to talk with residents about any fraud concerns as well as any other issues related to law enforcement in the community, Hartley said. Additionally, she will be able to assist with completing and filing pertinent reports, serve as an informational conduit, relaying and obtaining information useful to residents, answer department-related questions and generally maintain a HCSO presence in the new office during conventional business hours. Her routine hours are likely to be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., he added.

The forthcoming arrangement also will allow the community’s resource deputy, Chris Girard, to spend more time “on the streets” in a marked HCSO cruiser “doing the job for which he was hired, trained and is being paid,” Hartley noted. “We don’t stop or solve crimes in the office; we do that by being proactively involved and out on the roads,” the HCSO veteran added.

Another advantage of the new Sheriff’s office site will be sufficient space for conducting confidential conversations or interviews, Hartley said.

“There are situations and subjects that sometimes require privileged conversations and private interviews by law enforcement personnel in order to protect people’s lawful rights.” The major said. The new site is expected to accommodate two offices which could not be carved out of the space available within the security patrol headquarters, he indicated.

A small local HCSO substation has been located for about 15 years in a cramped and increasingly inadequate space at the rear of the south half of the SCC Community Association headquarters occupied by the SCC Security Patrol. “While we want and plan to continue our harmonious relationship with the security patrol, there simply was no way to expand to meet contemporary needs in that building,” Hartley said.

The relocation also in no way alters the functions or effectiveness of the patrol operations from the sheriff’s office perspective. “We wish every community in Hillsborough County had something similar to the SCC’s security patrol,” Hartley asserted, “this volunteer force provides invaluable eyes and ears for us; they’re an asset to local law enforcement.

The District IV commander, in charge of HCSO operations across the South County region, also emphasized that contact numbers for citizens will not change. Non-emergency calls can be channeled through 813-247-8200 and 911 remains the number to call in all emergencies.

Hartley said he could not yet pinpoint an exact date for opening the new HCSO community office because some interior reconfiguration must be completed as well as telephone and data lines transferred. ‘We’re aiming for late June,” he added, “before July 1.”

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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