PORT ST LUCIE, Fla.- - For the seventh year in a row, Port St Lucie saw the lowest number of crimes for mid-sized cities.
It's also one of the fastest growing cities in the state.
Port St Lucie is now the eighth largest city in Florida. It just surpassed Fort Lauderdale.
While property crimes are down, heroin overdoses are mounting.
Crime watch volunteers Lana and John Gauvreau check 25 houses a day for suspicious activity. “We observe to see if there's anything funny going on,” explained John Gauvreau. “What we do is we walk the property, we check the doors, the windows, make sure nothing has occurred.”
The couple has seen a lot in the 15 years they've been helping to combat crime. “We use to see more break-ins,” said Gauvreau. “We'd come across a house where we saw screen doors broken in.”
Police Chief John Bolduc said, “For the seventh year in Port St Lucie is the lowest crime rate in the city with a population of over 100,000.”
Chief Bolduc credits that to two strategies. Stratified policing, in which staff is held accountable for their cases. “Our closure rate on our cases has gone up dramatically over the last five years,” said Bolduc.
And more people coming forward with tips. Like those that led to the arrest of three of the four suspects accused of dressing in wigs and makeup and trying to rob a jewelry store in April. “A lot of the information we got that led to those arrests came from different witnesses, who were willing to step forward and help us,” said Bolduc.
But he said his department's biggest challenge is the opioid epidemic. “The number of overdoses are just continually going up,” explained Chief Bolduc. “Our traditional method of arresting drug dealers and putting them in jail doesn't seem to be effective.”
In the first six months of the year, there were 112 opioid overdoses in the city. Compare that to a total of 139 for all of last year.