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As Tampa murder rate skyrockets, experts warn of drug, alcohol link to violent crimes for National Crime Prevention Week

James Judge - February 9, 2021

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TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. – This week is the 39th annual National Crime Prevention Week, which runs from Feb. 7-13, and experts from Footprints Beachside Recovery Center, are encouraging people to practice sobriety and warning about the significant link between crime, drugs and alcohol use.

“This year is especially important, as we saw a significant spike in violent crime across the country from 2019 to 2020,” said John Templeton, founder of Footprints Beachside Recovery Center.

In 2020, crime climbed across the country, including here in the Tampa Bay area. According to the Tampa Police Department, the city of Tampa saw a 36 percent increase in violent crimes in the first five months of 2020 compared to the same period for 2019. Murders in Tampa skyrocketed, with a 64 percent increase in 2020, compared to 2019.

Tampa is not alone, however. According to Chicago Police, there was a 50 percent increase in shootings and murders in the city of Chicago, compared to 2019, with more than 4,000 shooting victims. Car-jackings more than doubled in Chicago, with over 1,300 by the end of 2020.

In New York City, killings rose to numbers not seen in nearly a decade with 447 homicides reported.

“Statistically speaking, we know that crime, drugs and alcohol are directly correlated in study after study,” said John Templeton, founder of Footprints Beachside Recovery Center. “If we want to see a drop in crime, we need to ramp up our efforts to encourage sobriety from all substances. Sadly, with opioid and alcohol abuse on the rise due to the pandemic, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing crime rise across major cities.”

It’s not just the opinion of drug and alcohol recovery experts, either. According to the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Study (ADAM II), which was conducted under the Obama administration, over 60 percent of booked arrestees tested positive for at least one illicit drug at the time of their arrest. In the cities of Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Portland and Sacramento, the number was even higher, with 70 percent testing positive.

Alcohol is also a major factor. In a Department of Justice study published in 1998 involving convicted offenders, the DOJ found that more than 1-in-3 had been consuming alcohol when they committed their offense.

“The bottom line is, we have a problem and something needs to be done,” said Templeton. “Focusing on sobriety is a sure-fire way to decrease the crime rate.”

About Footprints Beachside Recovery Center:

Founded in 2008, Footprints Beachside Recovery Center is a small, private, holistic substance abuse treatment center for adults and is located in Pinellas County, Fla. Footprints provides specialized treatment plans for patients from throughout the U.S. and around the world. Opioid addiction recovery programs at Footprints focus on ensuring safe withdrawals and often combine holistic treatment with medication assisted therapies to reduce cravings and provide more successful recovery outcomes for patients.

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