Business owners say high crime in West Tampa may change their plans

The West Tampa area has experienced considerable distress over the years, but has also seen a sense of revival.

But even with new businesses building homes in areas like West Main Street, is the area’s crime worth remodeling?

People who work there say they don’t know.

ABC Action News took these concerns to Tampa Police Department Lieutenant Whitney McCormick. She gained experience as a rookie officer on the streets of West Tampa in her 2009. She patrolled the area for her six years until she was transferred to her other two districts.

In February 2022, she was reassigned to her previous route. That’s what she said there’s been a fair amount of change.

“The biggest change is all of the construction and all of the different areas that are being built. The business that is here now. In 2009, there were no breweries. No,” said Lt. McCormick.

Despite years of development, those who run public companies in the area said they were hesitant to stay.

Corporate response

Owners of Bay Cannon Beer have ceased operations following a shooting that killed one woman in December 2022. He’s not the only one in West Tampa rethinking business.

Nearby employers held a meeting about whether it was safe to leave the door open.

Ignacio Torano, who works in an office of about 30 people, is one of them. There are bullet holes in the walls and windows after the December shooting.

“The police had to actually unscrew the panels to get the bullets and shells out,” Tolano said. “My desk is about five feet away from here, so I’m scared. It’s on the road I casually pass by and could have been there.”

The shooting happened over the weekend. In one instance, a bullet pierced his second-floor window and computer screen.

“If someone was sitting there, they wouldn’t be here today,” said Torano.

Relevant content:
West Tampa business owner seeks help after recent crime

Torano said the shootings weren’t limited to weekends. In one instance, he found something unfolding before his eyes at midday. He said block parties and open drinking of alcohol were also a problem.

Ideally, he said he would like to see more police presence, which he said was something the area lacked.

“No, I say no, it’s just that there are no police here. does not exist in the world,” Torano says. He said.

police stay in area

Lt. McCormick said police were patrolling even if they weren’t wearing uniforms.

“There are plainclothes police here all the time. They’re always intercepting crime. See it before it happens,” said Lt. McCormick.

Lt. McCormick did not deny that crime was a problem in western Tampa, and said the streets were getting safer each year.

ABC Action News has requested a call for service in the 1900 and 2000 blocks of West Tampa from January 1, 2021 to December 21, 2022.

In 2021, the police will be dispatched 243 times. That number dropped to 179 the following year.

“The police are here. I assure you the police are here,” said Lt. McCormick. “We need a community. Everyone needs to start working together, having conversations, working together as partners.”

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