TAMPA, Fla. — As 2023 gets underway, law enforcement in Tampa gave an overview of its efforts in 2022 to combat and curb violent crime in the area. Overall, police said there were positive results in reducing crime, especially gun-related violence.
According to Interim Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw, gun-related violence and crimes were reduced by 5 percent in 2022. A 17 percent reduction in non-fatal shootings also happened this past year, the chief said.
"I'm proud that the work of every Tampa police officer has led to these results," Bercaw said.
In addition, there was an 18.9 percent increase in the number of guns seized by law enforcement in the Tampa area. That's about 243 more guns off the street than in 2021, Bercaw added.
"Our goal is to make every community member and resident and visitor alike feel safe in our city," he said.
"We can still use help from the community to make the city even safer," Bercaw continued.
The chief said there were nearly 200 guns stolen from unlocked cars in Tampa. Bercaw urged people to lock their cars and keep their guns secured to prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands.
"It should be clear to anyone with the intention to commit a crime in Tampa, especially a violent crime — that we will hold you accountable and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Bercaw said.
United States Attorney Roger Handberg said in partnership with TPD, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida was able to charge and prosecute 91 people for federal crimes, including firearms and drug offenses.
Handberg added that in total 74 guns were "removed from our streets."
In addition to the work of TPD, Bercaw said officers were assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.