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Mayor Jane Castor Stands with Victims, Provides Update on Voluntary Crime Prevention Program

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National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 24 through April 30 

As part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Mayor Jane Castor and the Tampa Police Department today provided an update on SAFE, a voluntary crime prevention partnership for neighborhood associations, apartments and condos, and business groups to improve safety through education and community participation. 

Last year, SAFE replaced a voluntary, citywide program known as the Crime Free Multi-Housing program. Crime Free, a national program adopted by more than 1,000 communities, drew some concerns about its notification of public criminal records involving tenants. SAFE includes important safeguards and focuses on educating citizens, police, landlords, tenants and business owners on best practices to prevent and attack crime. 

The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated an investigation of the old Crime Free initiative to ensure that that program did not violate the Fair Housing Act by making unavailable or denying housing units. The Justice Department has acknowledged that the City of Tampa terminated the Crime Free initiative before its review began, and to date the city has not been notified of the results of the Justice Department’s review. The Tampa Police Department has never participated in evictions. 

A 2019 analysis showed that apartment complexes who opted to participate in the citywide program had a 34-37 percent drop in crime, versus a 21-23 percent drop for non-participating apartments. Some complexes saw crime decrease as much as 86 percent. 

In September, some media outlets incorrectly implied hundreds of tenants had been evicted because landlords were notified of tenants' arrests through that program.  

The Tampa City Attorney's Office looked at 529 notices of arrest provided to property managers participating in that program over the past five years and cross-checked them to public eviction records. Of the 529 notifications, only eight evictions were filed and only four were based on criminal activity and non-payment of rent. 

“The bottom line is that the City of Tampa believes firmly that every resident, regardless of income level or address, deserves to feel safe, and partnerships like SAFE help prevent crime,” Mayor Jane Castor said. “No major city in Florida has a lower crime rate than Tampa, and we will never stop standing up for crime victims, including residents victimized by criminal activity in their neighborhoods.”