Operation Red Flag targets north Sarasota crime

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SARASOTA COUNTY - The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office announced the results of a nearly 3-week long investigation to combat crime along the Suncoast.

Operation Red Flag was conducted from April 12th through 30th and netted 53 arrests and more than 125 criminal charges.

The initiative highlights the ability of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Deputies to rapidly respond to crimes reported in our area.

After using analytical data to identify the area of Sarasota County with a rising crime rate, the Sarasota County Sheriff's office took action using the agency's intelligence led policing model, and targeted north Sarasota.

According to the sheriff's office, the number of burglaries in that area was up. The arrests range from traffic offenses, to drug possession, and burglary among others.

The 53 people arrested as part of the operation collectively had more than 400 felony charges and nearly 500 misdemeanors. That includes David Lawrence, who has been arrested 51 times prior to his arrest during operation red flag. It also included the arrest of three teenagers – who upon further investigation were ultimately connected to at least 28 vehicle burglaries, two auto thefts and the fraudulent use of a credit card.

Now, Sheriff Knight says he's hoping these repeat, prolific offenders will receive the time they deserve in state prison. “We've got 70, 75 people that we've identified throughout this community who are the basis for a numerous amount of our crime. We're really proud that 16% of our crime, our decrease in crime, is important to us. I got to ask myself, 75 people in the county and we identified Lawrence, and why is he still out on the street?”

Sheriff Knight says they'll continue to use special operations, directed patrols and community oriented policing to displace high-risk, repeat offenders, ultimately keeping the citizens of Sarasota County safer.