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I-Drive wants to hire off-duty cops to patrol tourist strip  Jul 31, 2008

The International Drive business community has resurrected a plan to hire off-duty law enforcement officers to patrol the tourist corridor in an effort to control crime and make tourists feel safer.

The extra "eyes and ears" would be paid for with a special tax assessment on some of the businesses in the area, said Luann Brooks, executive director of the International Drive Master Transit & Improvement District.

The program would supplement regular law enforcement each day with 10 additional officers, who would focus on known crime hot spots during peak hours.

It would also include community "ambassadors," much like those now working in downtown Orlando.

The improvement district's advisory board is going to ask the Orange County Commission to triple the district's tax rate in the part of the district known as MSTU 1, taking it from one-tenth of a mill to three-tenths.

That would generate an additional $1.2 million to pay for the added police officers and deputies.

For the majority of business owners, it would mean an extra couple of hundred dollars on their tax bills each year, though larger businesses would pay more than smaller ones, Brooks said.

The money would not come out of the county's general operating funds, she said.

The plan has been under consideration for more than a year, Brooks said, spurred by a similar program launched in MetroWest, a mostly residential development in southwest Orlando.

County commissioners are scheduled to hear public comment on the program during a meeting Aug. 26.

"We don't see any opposition," Brooks said. "But you never know."

I-Drive wants to hire off-duty cops to patrol tourist strip
International Drive, Orlando /

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