Ybor City, Fla. (WFLA) – Businesses in Ybor City have had enough of the recent crime. The night before Thanksgiving is known as “Blackout Wednesday” due to excessive drinking.
Tampa Police Department Maj. Eric DeFelice said, “We understand the gravity of Thanksgiving eve tonight and the increase in crowds on this day, so yes, please rest assured that TPD is fully committed to keeping everyone safe. .”
However, some businesses questioned the lack of police in the area, especially on a night like Wednesday night. Ritz Ybor general manager Paul Cifelli said his main concern was the lack of police presence.
“We fought on the 7th, gunshots, and where [are] police? Unfortunately a gentleman was killed a few weeks ago,” Cifeli said.
On Oct. 23, a 20-year-old man was shot and killed on Seventh Avenue, according to police. A few weeks earlier, another man was shot in the arm, also on 7th Avenue.
“We can have 50 to 100,000 people here for really big city events without an influx of officials,” Cifelli said.
8 On Your Side asked Major Eric DeFelice, who said that TPD has devoted significant resources to the region.
“I strongly disagree with that statement,” he said. “I would say we have pulled out all the stops with the business owners and stakeholders in Ybor City.”
Cifeli disagrees. “Come to a police officer in Ybor City at 1:00, 1:30 or 2:00 a.m.,” he said. “Find those officers because we didn’t see them.”
Tampa police said Ibor’s top five offenses included trespassing warnings, batteries, DUI, suspended license and pickpocketing. Police also say there have been two homicides in Ybor this year, compared to three last year.
“Knowing that there will be a lot of people here, that the number of officers may not follow is worrying,” Cifelli said.
The TPD said it would be out in full force, with uniformed officers and other undercover agents.
“We know the violent crime there, and the shootings in that area in particular, is a serious concern for us,” DeFelice said.