Sarasota News Leader

11/16/2012

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Sarasota News Leader November 16, 2012 whereas when he won his first term in 2008, he was afraid he did not have sufficient per- sonnel to fight crime. "We use a lot of analysts now — civilians — to control and direct where our resources are going," Knight said. Jerry Ratcliffe, a professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University in Philadelphia had done research to show that 6 percent of the population commits 60 per- cent of the crime, Knight added. Ratcliffe had helped him and his staff make the changes necessary to focus on how best to address that factor in Sarasota County, Knight said. Working also with the State Attorney's Office, Knight said, his department and about eight analysts had determined that approximately 70 prolific offenders in Sarasota County were responsible for most of the crime. Those indi- viduals are referred to as "blue dots," he added. Page 41 The list was compiled on the basis of such fac- tors as age, records of prior violence, records of pawnshop transactions, history of narcotics charges and past incarcerations. When Commissioner Joe Barbetta asked about the effect of lower crime rates on the jail population, Knight said the current inmate count is 933, with more than 80 percent await- ing trial. The jail is still over capacity, Knight said, "but we seem pretty stable." Thanks to the Offender Work Program and other initiatives in the county, people who are not a threat can be released until their cases are heard, he pointed out. If anything could be done to speed up the hearing of cases in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, Knight said, that would help more than anything else to reduce the jail population. Metal thefts in Sarasota County have dropped 92 percent since the County Commission approved an ordinance last year regarding second-hand sales of metals. Graph courtesy of the Sheriff's Office

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