Tampa police increasing foot patrols to try and curb crime

Tampa police started increased foot patrols in some of the city's highest crime neighborhoods Wednesday, in an effort to curb a dangerous spree of violent crimes.

The patrols will focus on the Robles Park, North Boulevard and Belmont Heights public housing communities. They will eventually expand to all of the housing communities under the control of the Tampa Housing Authority.

Major Rocky Ratliff announced the patrols on the basketball courts in Robles Park Village. He then led a team of crime prevention officers on the first round.

Ratliff said the goal is to create relationships with residents and build trust between officers and the community. They hope that trust will lead to tips for crimes that have been tough to solve in the past.

"By engaging the community you gain that rapport with the community, with the residents and they'll be more apt to trust us and give us information," Ratliff explained.

Investigators also hope the patrols will ease concerns neighbors may have about trespassers and other safety issues, like poor lighting.

Many Robles Park neighbors said they welcome the approach and look forward to seeing more officers around their homes.

"I feel great about that because we are more involved with our Tampa Police Department," Annette Mays told FOX 13.

The departments move comes on the heels of a recent surge in violent crimes -- including the unsolved murders of 14-year-old EJ Harris and 58-year-old grandmother Sharon Watkins.