Unmanned police cruisers scattered around city

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SARASOTA-- If you have been traveling around the City of Sarasota recently, it's likely you have seen a number of unmanned police cruisers sitting in neighborhoods or along busy roadways.

It's all part of a plan that Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino says is a "bit outside the box" to show there is a presence of police within the community.

"The presence of a police officer, or a police vehicle is a deterrent to crime. Citizens are never going to know if there is an officer walking through the neighborhood, or in the vehicle, or if they live in the neighborhood. We want to do everything we can to have a high police visibility within our community," said DiPino.

The cars are moved a couple of times a day, mainly to areas that are known for suspicious incidents or criminal activity.

"The officers are really good at apprehending criminals. We want to do a good job of preventing the criminals from coming into the neighborhoods," said DiPino.

Is the program working? We asked Jay Patel, the owner of Regency Inn on the North Trail. For several weeks, an unmanned car has been seen around the area of his hotel. On Monday, it was across the street. Patel acknowledges that he still sees some of the notorious criminals around, but their activities have not been as prolific.

"What we have definitely seen is that people who are coming to pick up prostitutes or coming to do some deals has decreased," said Patel.

The unmanned cars are also utilized to prevent drivers from speeding.