Sheriff to launch Problem Oriented Policing with stimulus grant

By Lisa ZahnerINDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office will receive nearly $1 million over a three-year period to fund a team of deputies to be known as POPS, which stands for Problem-Oriented Policing Squad. The task force will begin tackling crime problems in October.In Florida, 224 agencies applied for federal stimulus dollars for community policing and the Sheriff’s Office was one of only 66 selected to receive the award. It will pay for salaries and benefits for the five deputies, which will be hand-picked from seasoned field officers with expertise in various areas needed by the team. Then five new deputies will be hired and trained to take over the beats of the officers transferred to POPs. “What we’re going to do with the POPS program is, when we get a situation, say it’s auto burglaries in Vero Lake Estates or on the beach or wherever, we’ll go into that neighborhood with a focused mission, these guys are going to be able to solve a problem and get on to the next one,” said Sheriff Deryl Loar. “We can track the problem and free up our zoned deputies. We will have personnel on the POPS who have relationships with prosecutors and the court system so we can work together with those agencies.”Loar said POPS will be different than the COPS programs of the 1990s, funded under President Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign promise to put 100,000 officers on the street because it will be issue-focused and not necessarily geographically focused. Problems he sees POPS tackling include drag racing, gang activity, disruptive house parties, drinking in public, illegal dumping and other environmental hazards caused by crime.”We’re going to go at it in a new angle, a new direction,” said Kim Poole, grant writer for the IRSO who wrote the proposal for POPS. “But it will still have the comnunity aspect to it.”Detctive Teddy Floyd said he’s ecstatic about the prospect of the POPs team having the time and manpower to tackle the issues which affect Gifford and communities throughout the County.”These things cause a degradation of the community,” Floyd said. “With POPS we can take care of these things. We’ve been doing a lot with very little resources and with the POPS grant, we’ll have the resources we need to work together on these problems. The way things are going, we need each other.”In his opinion, based on the cases he’s been able to help solve using tips from local informants, community policing, is definitely worth the time, effort and money.”When something happens, my cell phone goes off, everybody calls me,” he said.

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