Citizen Observer Patrol Participation Up In Royal Palm

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office District 9 Capt. Paul Miles gave his annual report to the Royal Palm Beach Village Council on Thursday, March 20.

Miles said the District 9 deputies had undergone more than 3,500 hours of training during the past year. They also participated in numerous community events, many in cooperation with the village, including a food drive where they partnered with village schools to distribute 556 turkeys.

The deputies also met with principals of all the public and private schools in the village to explain how they work with the schools, and staged a breakfast for local ministers along with village officials to explore ways to partner with them.

District 9 deputies attended 62 homeowners’ association meetings in 2013 to discuss crime trends and distribute crime prevention information.

“This allows the community to have seamless contact with law enforcement,” Miles said.

He added that Royal Palm Beach has an active Citizen Observer Patrol that provided more than 5,900 volunteer hours last year assisting in many roles.

“That was an increase of more than 120 percent,” Miles said. “Whether it be on the water in our new boat or on Segways that we use in Commons [Park], we count on our volunteers to assist us in many ways.”

District 9 is one of four designated areas in the county that provide fingerprint services. “This is of benefit to residents, and 1,280 fingerprint requests were processed last year in District 9,” he said.

The district’s deputies also collected 378 truants and returned them to their schools, which was the fourth-most in the county. “For a village this size, it’s outstanding,” Miles said.

The district also provided 340 horse-hour patrols from the mounted unit, and 2,698 bike-hours. “That was an increase of 707 bike-hours the past year,” he said. “You’ve probably seen the bikes in neighborhoods and business plazas with District 9 deputies riding.

Participation in the district’s Police Athletic League boxing program for boys and girls ages 11 to 17 was up 41 percent last year and averages 100 kids per week showing up to work out, Miles said.

Calls for service have been divided into sectors, and with the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, calls are balanced so they are distributed evenly, Miles said.

The CAD system captured 65,461 calls last year. Of those, 44,250 were proactive police calls, and the remaining 21,211 were calls for service. Of those, 3,230 were criminal in nature, which was down from the previous year’s 3,411.

He said uniform crime reporting (UCR) from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has evened out over the past three years, and the percentage of cases closed has risen from 36 percent to 38 percent.

In the seven categories collected by the UCR, the total crime index was up to 1,103 from 1,086 in 2012. There were no murders, compared to one the previous year. Forcible rapes were down to 12 from 13 in 2012. Robberies increased by nine to 39, larceny was up to 832 from 761 in 2012, and motor vehicle thefts were up to 36 compared with 26 in 2012. However, aggravated assault was down to 65 from 78 in 2012, and burglaries were down sharply to 119 from 181 in 2012.

Miles credited the reduced number of residential burglaries in part to the increased truancy enforcement. He attributed the increase in robberies to shoplifters resisting arrest by store attendants; there were nine such incidents.

“Resisting a merchant is considered a robbery, so if you’re at your local store and somebody resists the loss prevention officer going out the door, that is regarded as a robbery,” he said.

Shoplifting is concentrated largely at the Super Walmart store, which had 197 of the total 393 incidents in 2013, an increase of 23.1 percent at that store alone.

“I have met with the Walmart store manager and corporate officials about the growing problem,” he said. “They have instituted a plan to cut down on the man-hours that we spend at Walmart.”

Of the 39 robberies, 20 were highway, 12 were commercial, one was a gas station, one was a convenience store, two were residences, one was a bank and two were not categorized.

Theft accounted for 75 percent of the total crime index. “Shoplifting incidents were 38 percent of all thefts reported,” Miles said. “Vehicle burglaries are listed as thefts from motor vehicles,” he said. “That was an increase from the previous year.

Thefts from unlocked vehicles remain the PBSO’s biggest challenge in Royal Palm Beach.

“Criminals working at night and pulling on door handles is becoming a constant thing throughout the county and across the country,” Miles said. “Just the other night, they were out in Counterpoint Estates. You hit one, you get a whole spree of them. We had eight vehicles hit the other night.”


ABOVE: Capt. Paul Miles