The State Road 7 corridor continues to dominate Royal Palm Beach crime reports, while traffic remains a top complaint.
Capt. Paul Miles, commander of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office District 9 substation in Royal Palm Beach, gave his annual report at the Royal Palm Beach Village Council meeting Thursday, March 21.
The Computer Activated Dispatch System (CADS) recorded 73,395 incidents last year, including 20,672 police calls. “Of those, only 3,400 were criminal in nature,” Miles said.
The Shoma Homes community and the businesses near Victoria Grove continue to be one of the more troublesome areas in the village, Miles noted.
“It has been a challenge,” he said. “We have been fortunate in the past year that we initiated a program where we put a deputy in there 24/7. It has taken one of our deputies, but we knocked down the violent crime. We had a homicide in there, we had armed robberies in there, and we’ve kind of knocked that back, as well as knocking back the property crimes that we were having.”
Another time-consuming challenge has been the Walmart Supercenter, a mile up SR 7 from Shoma Homes, Miles said, adding that construction theft at Royal Palm Beach Commons Park has also been an issue.
He reported that the biggest complaint is traffic. “That’s not just the village,” Miles said. “It’s throughout the county. Traffic seems to be the number-one issue that folks in the communities have.”
The substation has 56 sworn deputies, 55 of whom are assigned directly to District 9. There is one captain, one lieutenant, six sergeants, two detectives, a lobby deputy, a Police Athletic League deputy, a motorcycle deputy, four street team deputies and 36 road patrol officers working in four shifts with nine deputies on each shift.
In the Unified Crime Report, larcenies and thefts increased by 30 incidents, from 731 to 761. Robberies increased by 16 from 14 to 30, with revised coding adding sudden snatchings and resisting a merchant while shoplifting to that number. Motor vehicle theft dropped from 69 to 26.
Shoplifting increased 18 percent from 222 to 264, of which 160 (61 percent) were at Walmart. Shoplifting accounted for 24 percent of all crime in the village, Miles said, adding that he is trying to persuade Walmart management to hire a deputy full-time. “That has not happened as of yet,” he said.
As for the increase in robberies, Miles said the 30 incidents break down as follows: seven had victims who cooperated with the deputy, five had victims who did not cooperate with the deputy, seven were shoplifting that led to resisting a merchant, 10 were by sudden snatching, and one where the victim could not be located for follow-up.
Over 10,000 traffic citations were issued, which was an increase of more than 2,000. DUI arrests went down from 127 to 108.
Crashes increased by 75, from 1,397 to 1,472. The substation has been working the top crash locations — Southern Blvd. and SR 7 with 101 crashes, Okeechobee Blvd. and SR 7 with 55, and Okeechobee Blvd. and Royal Palm Beach Blvd. with 51. Most of the crashes are caused by red light violations, Miles said.
Financial crime is at an all-time high, he said, pointing out that at a recent FBI conference, it was reported that cybercrime and other white-collar crimes are the second-biggest threat in the United States next to terrorism. Miles said that he has been able to get a deputy from another district to work the lobby at no extra cost and put that deputy in the detectives’ unit to assist in cybercrime work.
District 9 deputies and staff received 2,455 hours of training, including 1,120 hours of in-service training and 1,335 hours in specialized training, for an average of 41 hours per employee.
The office participated in numerous community events throughout the year, many times in partnership with the village, including crime prevention training to community groups. The crime prevention officer also goes out to interview businesses that have been robbed to provide crime prevention information.
The substation partnered with local schools in a food drive for needy families, and also offers a VIN etching program for vehicles and a free bike helmet program. The office participates in Neighborhood Crime Watch programs and homeowners’ meetings, attending 58 HOA meetings over the past year.
In addition to road patrol deputies, other units assist in maintaining safety and security in the village, including an active Citizen Observer Patrol (COP) unit that provided more than 2,500 volunteer hours the past year.
District 9 is also one of four designated areas in the county that provides fingerprinting services. “This is a benefit to the residents,” Miles said, explaining that more than 1,000 fingerprints were processed at the office last year.
Deputies provided 1,191 bike hours, which was an increase of 320 over the previous year. “We’re hoping to get more folks certified and get more bikes out there,” Miles said.
As for other services: deputies apprehended and returned 252 truants; the Marine Unit provided 73 patrol hours in village waterways; and the Commercial Motor Vehicle Unit made 131 truck stops and inspections and removed 17 trucks and two drivers from service, issuing 29 citations and 42 warnings.
The district also provides an active and growing Police Athletic League boxing program. There is an average of 27 participants each week, Miles said, explaining that the office does outreach to local schools to encourage more participation.
For the second year, the Silver Gloves Championship was held in the village in partnership with the recreation department. “We’re hoping that the third annual one we might be able to have at the new park,” Miles said.
ABOVE: Capt. Paul Miles