Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast is calling on U.S. Sen. Rick Scott to look into a deal the Biden administration recently cut to move U.S. troops and their families around the world.

Letter: Citrus County Sheriff Prendergast Responds To Articles About Derby Oaks

Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast
Op-Ed By Sheriff Mike Prendergast

No neighborhood is completely devoid of crime, and the series of articles published in the Citrus County Chronicle wrongfully portrayed the Derby Oaks Community in Floral City as crime-ridden.

The amount of neighborhood-reported crime in Derby Oaks has actually dropped over the past three years, and if the Chronicle actually requested this information, they would be reporting on facts, not fabrications.

One article even inferred a random carjacking as well as an arson as occurring in this neighborhood, which is completely inaccurate. The subjects who committed the carjacking in downtown Floral City have no ties to this community or even country; they are illegal aliens from Venezuela who were subsequently arrested a few counties north after the incident. The isolated arson incident occurred off of Trails End Road, not Derby Oaks.

Neither of these incidents denote a neighborhood crime problem in Derby Oaks but are part of a much larger national issue on illegal immigration and mental illness that affects all communities. In 2021, there were eight community-related cases reported to the agency in Derby Oaks, ranging from residential burglaries to petit theft and aggravated battery. 

In 2022, five such cases were generated, and so far this year, only two, a petit theft and a burglary to a residence.  Other crimes of various nature have been reported as well during these time periods, but they are incidents isolated to a particular residence or occurred out of this jurisdiction.  These would be domestic batteries and online or phone frauds.

The articles describe drug houses in the neighborhood and complaints to Code Enforcement.  The Sheriff’s Office and County Code Enforcement continually work together to address neighborhood concerns. The statute-driven time delays and court proceedings do drive some of this frustration in eradicating dilapidated or problematic houses, but they are always addressed according to law, not opinions or hunches.

Once the Sheriff’s Office identifies a neighborhood problem, we utilize various approaches to correct the issue.  Either trying to obtain probable cause to arrest narcotics offenders or trying to provide Behavioral Health Services to those addicted to substances. There is no singular silver bullet; we utilize all resources available. It is more than just trying to arrest your way out of an issue, it is permanently fixing the issues based upon all the issues presented.

When we first heard of this neighborhood concern, it was an email blast, a letter to Commissioner Bays, and our article published without investigation. Regretfully, crime occurs in either isolated incidents or in crime sprees, not only in Derby Oaks but throughout the nation.  Utilizing various approaches to proactively prevent crimes from occurring or immediately applying data-driven techniques to solve crimes is done daily. Our analysts constantly look at all data, developing actionable intelligence so it can be shared amongst staff issues presented.

When concerns of a “crime wave” are aired as in this instance, the first step is to assess the statistics. We differentiate between a perceived feeling of crime and actual crime, but both are extremely important.  However, we can only proactively address what we see.  Once informed, a meeting was arranged with our Community Resource Detective and our East Patrol District Sergeant to speak to the residents, assess their concerns, and educate them on what actions had already been taken over the years. Most residents were unaware of the many proactive approaches already in place; we also go into detail of laws that can and cannot be enforced.

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office strives to address any criminal activity immediately with evidence-based best practices.  The Sheriff’s Office is bound by the Constitution and Florida State Statute on the actions that can be taken, and we work within those parameters. When we are able, we enlist the assistance of other government agencies as well as non-governmental organizations to enhance the quality of life.

About Sheriff Prendergast: Elected to office in November 2016, Sheriff Mike Prendergast became Citrus County’s 12th Sheriff. As evidenced by his tireless work ethic, Sheriff Prendergast is strongly committed to the citizens of Citrus County and to the CCSO employees who tirelessly serve to make Citrus County the safest community in Florida.

Android Users, Click To Download The Free Press App And Never Miss A Story. Follow Us On Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our free newsletter. 

We can’t do this without your help. Visit our GiveSendGo page and donate any dollar amount; every penny helps.

Login To Facebook To Comment