Marion Sheriff's top brass take to streets to combat crime



MARION COUNTY, Fla. - Some of the highest ranking commanders in the Marion County Sheriff's Office will leave their desks to patrol the roads from now until after the New Year holiday.

The Christmas shopping season can often include a spike in armed robberies, especially convenience store holdups.

The Marion County Sheriff's office said they have seen more than enough robberies in their county.

"What we decided to do was heighten the security of the convenience stores in Marion County by creating the STRESS Detail," said Detective Bobby Levay of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

STRESS stands for Stop the Robbery, Ensure Safe Shopping.

The sheriff ordered the formation of special units, placing personnel in and around convenience stores and moving from store to store.

It won't be only patrol deputies handling the duties. The sheriff has his top brass on this assignment, including captains and majors.

"Usually [they are] people that are doing administrative jobs. They'll put their uniforms on, check out a marked patrol vehicle and start doing security of these convenience stores," said Levay.

Levay said it's paying off.

Last holiday season, the senior officers monitoring surveillance cameras in real time watched a holdup in progress. The suspects didn't get far before they were captured.

The number of holiday holdups has dropped every year since the sheriff put this program in place.

So far this holiday season, officials said there have been no convenience store holdups in unincorporated Marion County.