Ybor City business managers, police ‘disagree’ over crime levels, officer presence
YBOR CITY, Fla. (WFLA) – Businesses in Ybor City are fed up with recent crime. The night before Thanksgiving is known as ‘Blackout Wednesday’ because of the excessive drinking.
“We understand the gravity of tonight being Thanksgiving Eve and the increase of the crowd for this day, so yes, rest assured that TPD will be there in full force to make sure everyone is safe,” said Major Eric DeFelice, Tampa Police Department.
However, some businesses are questioning the lack of police in the area, especially on nights like Wednesday night. The Ritz Ybor’s general manager, Paul Cifelli, said his main concern is the lack of police presence.
“We’re having fights on 7th, gunshots, and where [are] the police? Unfortunately, a gentleman was killed weeks ago,” said Cifelli.
A 20-year-old was shot and killed along 7th Avenue on October 23, according to police. Weeks before that, another man was shot in the arm, again on 7th Avenue.
“We can have 50 to 100,000 people down here and really big city events and there’s not a big influx of officers,” said Cifelli.
8 On Your Side asked Major Eric DeFelice who said TPD devotes a lot of resources to the area.
“I couldn’t disagree more with that statement,” He said. “I’d say we go to great length with the business owners and the stakeholders down in Ybor City.”
Cifelli disagrees. “Come down to Ybor City at 1 a.m., 1:30 or 2 and find an officer,” he said. “Find those officers because we’re not seeing them.”
Tampa Police said the top five crimes in Ybor, include trespass warnings, battery, DUI, driving while license suspended, and pick pocketing. Police also said there have been two homicides in Ybor this year and three last year.
“It’s concerning knowing there’s going to be lots of people down here at the officer count will probably not rise with it,” Cifelli said.
TPD said it’ll be out in full force, with uniformed officers out as well as others undercover.
“We understand that violent crime there, especially shots being fired in that area, is a grave concern for us as well,” said DeFelice.