Karie Partington, Media Relations Manager with Collier County Sheriff’s Office, was very kind to answer few questions for my blog.

Question:  Lee and Collier Counties are neighbors, yet Collier County crime rate is much lower. Why Collier County has such a low crime rate?

We can’t speak to a comparison between our county and Lee County because each county is unique. However, we can tell you that Sheriff Kevin Rambosk believes that the safest jurisdictions are those in which law enforcement and the community work closely together. Because of his philosophy our deputies are very involved in the community and in return our community is very involved with us. We work with businesses, civic organizations, homeowner associations and individuals to help keep Collier County safe. During the summer we keep the youth of Collier County involved in free and fun activities that we organize with the help of community partners. These activities range from fishing to a build-a-chair program to basketball and much more.

Question: In 2000 Collier County had 3,871 crimes, in 2005 Collier County had 2,403 crimes, in 2010 Collier County had 2,016 crimes, in 2014 Collier County had 1,763 crimes, in 2016 Collier County had 1,540 crimes. As a matter of fact, the crime rate in many U.S. cities and counties is declining, what do you think is the reason for the general crime rate decline?

Law enforcement leaders, sociologists, economists, and political scientists have studied this phenomenon, but there’s no real consensus about what caused this shifting national trend. Locally, we closely monitor crime trends and we work together and with our community and our fellow public safety partners to both prevent crime and put an end to criminal activity. For the past several years Collier County has been the safest metropolitan county in the state, according to statistics by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Question: How does Collier County fight opioid addiction problem?

Our deputies investigate all reports of drug activity with the goal of taking drug dealers off the streets. In addition, we work to connect those who are addicted to drugs with the resources they need to recover. Also, we are currently working with hospitals and EMS to identify where overdoses are originating in the community, which will allow us to target our resources as effectively as possible. It is important to note that CCSO, Drug Free Collier and other community partners created a Heroin Task Force in 2015 to address the problem of heroin and other opioids in the community.

Question: Do we incarcerate more people, and is it a good solution?

Actually, our jail population has been trending downward for several years. The current jail population in Collier County is about 800 inmates. We believe there are many reasons for this decrease.  In addition to the lower crime levels referenced in Question 2 above, we have incorporated an array of programs dedicated to helping inmates succeed and avoid re-arrest when they return to the community. We offer inmates a G.E.D. program, a culinary arts program, and a cell dog program, all aimed at increasing self-esteem and giving inmates marketable skills that they can use to find employment when they return to the community. In addition, our jail staff works with inmates before they are released to develop a release plan and a list of community resources that are available to them. We also partner with NAMI to provide our deputies with Crisis Intervention Team training, which helps them de-escalate situations they encounter in the community. This training also helps Patrol deputies identify individuals who are need of mental health or substance abuse treatment and get them to the resources they need instead of arresting them.

Question: Naples, FL is smaller and quieter than Miami or New York City, do we have gang problems?

Criminal street gangs can form anywhere. We believe that prevention is the first line of defense against gangs. Our Youth Relations Bureau members mentor children in our schools. They also teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum to help them learn how to make positive decisions and avoid peer pressure. Those relationships between Youth Relations Bureau deputies and students continue through the summer months through our Summerfest program. Because no community is totally immune from gangs we have a gang unit aimed at identifying and disrupting street gang activity. Gang unit members monitor criminal street gangs and identify, document and remove gang graffiti in partnership with Collier County Code Enforcement. We also partner with local tattoo parlors who are willing to remove gang tattoos from former gang members who are working to reform their lives.

Question: What is the most troublesome neighborhood in Collier County?

We don’t have areas that we would label as “troublesome.” Every neighborhood is unique, and our deputies work at a neighborhood level to keep each area of Collier County safe.  We also have a crime map function on our website, www.colliersheriff.org. Members of the community can search their neighborhood to identify any criminal activity as well as sexual offenders living in the area. We provide the maps as a service so that residents and visitors can obtain the information they need to stay safe.

Question: We don’t use red light cameras in Collier County. I feel people are more confident now running a red light. Do you think red light cameras was a good idea?

Law enforcement does not make the decision as to whether communities have red light cameras. This is a decision that local governments make.  Our Safety & Traffic Enforcement Bureau as well as our Patrol deputies develop and execute traffic safety operations aimed at keeping motorists safe and curbing traffic violations including red-light running. We also offer the ZOOM Traffic Hotline, which is 239.530.ZOOM (9666), where people can report traffic problem locations that are not in-progress. Deputies incorporate these problem areas into their traffic safety operation plans. For in-progress traffic infractions that pose an immediate risk to public safety it is best to call 911.