By Tamas Mondovics
To meet the current needs and in order to accommodate future growth, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) has made preparations to add a fifth district to its patrol service.
The addition of a new district, which will specifically affect and reshape District IV, the department’s largest district is scheduled to begin serving residents in April or May 2017 is hardly a surprise.
Within its more than 400 square miles, District IV, serves nearly 300,000 residents in the communities of Ruskin, Riverview, Apollo Beach, Progress Village, Lithia, FishHawk and Bloomingdale.
“The change is necessary due to what is going on in District IV,” said Major Robert Bullara, who replaced retiring former District IV commander Major Ron Hartley in 2015. “We have nearly 1,000 people moving to Hillsborough County each month, most of them to communities in District IV. Currently we have 34 active subdivisions.”
When ready, the new district led by its new commander, Major Kyle Robinson, will border communities north of the Alafia River, such as Progress Village, Bloomingdale and northern Riverview along with its substations.
District IV will continue to serve communities south of the river, Lithia, FishHawk, Gibsonton, Apollo Beach, Ruskin, and southern Riverview including Balm, Wimauma and Sun City Center.
During a recent neighborhood meeting, which is held monthly at the Bloomingdale Community Substation, Bullara put things into perspective when he emphasized the effects of the growth within his district and what needs to be done.
“Traffic issues are the future,” he said adding, “Big Bend Road is like State Road 60, and is just tough to get around. New schools and the constriction of new schools and subdivisions, not to mention two new theaters currently under construction in Gibsonton and Progress Village, will draw even more people to the area. Now is the time to get ahead of this.”
Bullara said that since last year, 2,500 new single-family home permits have been pulled, showing no signs of slowing down.
While promising a smooth transition, Bullara, said that the department is working on hiring 100 deputies by the end of the year to fill all necessary positions for the new district office, which will be located across from HCSO’s District II facility on Falkenburg Road.
The major anticipates losing some of his deputies to the new district, while the rest of the staff will come from patrol districts I,II, and III.
As to the future of the Bloomingdale Community Substation following the opening of the new district office, Bullara could not say for sure, but was confident it will remain open to serve its residents when he said, “I don’t think this station will be closed, at least not for another year.”
For more information, visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.