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Burglary, theft numbers down, Melbourne police say

During the weekly data-driven approaches to crime and traffic safety, or DDACTS, briefing at the Melbourne Police Department, patrol lieutenants and sergeants, detectives, commanders and crime analysts take turns firing off things that they've learned on the streets.

"Last night on Clover Circle, we had a suspicious person again," a lieutenant said.

"Ferguson stopped a guy walking down the street with an edger," a sergeant said.

"He may be correlated with the one on Zephyr where the ex-Marine shot at him," another lieutenant said.

The reports weave together a picture of recent crime trends or spikes in violence in Melbourne. They narrow it down to when and where.

Melbourne police call them "hot zones."

"Through the intelligence-led policing, we have suspects, vehicles and areas we want to patrol for," patrol Sgt. Brian Hart said. "So now we're going to go out and target that area."

News 6 rode along with Hart as he patrolled the Wickham Park area of Melbourne.

"So this area is a high vehicle and structure burglary area," Hart said. "We're looking for anything that appears suspicious, people out of place, things out of place. One of our night shift guys stopped an older male and he was confronted by a homeowner in this region right here."

Hart said targeting hot zones places officers in the areas where crime is spiking.

"We found that if you put a number of marked police cars in an area, criminals are less likely to commit crime," Hart said. "They don't want to be where the police are at.”

Targeting those areas is essential, police said.

“If we put cops out and allow them to roam without a specific mission, we may be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Hart said. “We want to be in the right place at the right time, which is where all of this data is coming into play."​

Within minutes of News 6’s ride-along Hart spotted a man on a bike with a beach bag so large that it was almost banging into the bicycle tires as the man pedaled. The bag showed the outline of a big box.

Hart made a U-turn and stopped the man after he crossed Wickham Road in the middle of a block.

"You have to be in a crosswalk or crossing at a 90-degree angle," Hart told the man. "What's in the bag?"

The man told Hart that he was carrying a gift for his friend.

​"It's not even open, it's a Crock-Pot," the man said. "I'm returning it to my buddies."

Hart was not convinced, especially after the man revealed his criminal record and said he spent time in prison. But, as Hart correctly noted, "carrying a Crock-Pot on a bike is not illegal," so he allowed the man to leave after taking note of his name and address.

Hart said he would share his encounter in the next DDACTS briefing and include the Crock-Pot in the department's database if a homeowner reports one stolen.

Melbourne police Cmdr. Sean Riordan said DDACTS enables the department to get results on crime by shortening crime trends when they notice a spike.

In the one year that DDACTS has been in effect, police said vehicle and home burglaries, along with auto thefts and shoplifting, are down.

Riordan said DDACTS also ensures accountability.

Every 30 days, patrol leaders must report what they did, how it worked and what they plan to do for the next 30 days. If their approach didn't work, they must present a new plan and learn from others in the DDACTS briefings.

Ann Coulter says her Berkeley speech canceled

Ann Coulter says she won't be speaking at UC Berkeley on Thursday after all.

The conservative pundit took to her verified Twitter account Wednesday to say the university canceled her speech -- something the school denied.

Coulter's plan to speak had created a war of words on the campus roiled by recent protests.

A student group, the Young America's Foundation, said Tuesday it had decided not to host the event, saying the university had created a hostile environment. The university said the speech would create security concerns and tried to move it to May 2.

Despite that, Coulter had held out hope Tuesday of speaking somewhere on campus -- but didn't know where. On Wednesday she announced the cancellation on Twitter. "I'm so sorry Berkeley canceled my speech," she tweeted.

"I'm so sorry YAF acquiesced in the cancelation (sic). And I'm so sorry for free speech crushed by thugs."

University officials could not immediately be contacted for comment Wednesday afternoon. But before Coulter tweeted, the university put out a news release that said, "Contrary to some press reports and circulating narratives, the UC Berkeley administration did not cancel the Coulter event and has never prohibited Ms. Coulter from coming on campus."

The news release said the school decided not to provide a venue for the Thursday speech because of reports that violence would occur. It suggested the speech be given May 2 -- but school is not in session that day, so Coulter and the YAF opposed that idea.

"This is a university, not a battlefield," the news release said. "We must make every effort to hold events at a time and location that maximizes the chances that First Amendment rights can be successfully exercised and that community members can be protected."

Coulter slammed the school in her tweets, saying in one: "I'm so sorry Berkeley had a different story every 20 minutes, which always was: No speech."

Troy Worden, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, said Wednesday that the university didn't provide a venue.

"In effect our free speech has been stifled because the university has decided not to assist us in making sure the event can occur successfully," he said. "We aren't going to have a dangerous event."

The YAF and Berkeley College Republicans have filed a lawsuit that accuses the school of discriminating against conservative guest speakers by placing onerous time and location restrictions on their appearances. Berkeley, known for decades as a bastion of free speech, has seen protests turn violent in recent months.

Earlier this month, 21 people were arrested when anti-Trump and pro-Trump groups clashed in a city park.

In early March, 10 people were arrested when pro- and anti-Trump groups fought in Berkeley.

In February people took to the streets to protest an appearance by right-wing commentator Milo Yiannopoulos. The university said more than $100,000 in damage was done.

An attorney for the Berkeley College Republicans said the lawsuit will proceed.

"A lawsuit is a long-term remedy that is going to affect not just Ann Coulter's speech but other speakers at UC Berkeley," lawyer Harmeet Dhillon told reporters. "The goal is much larger than Ann Coulter's speech here tomorrow."

Dhillon said the university officials told her they wouldn't provide a room but Coulter could speak at an outdoor venue. "The First Amendment requires equal access, not one level of open access for conservatives, out in the open, with attackers shouting us down," she said, "and another level of access in a private, closed setting where people are allowed to enjoy an educational opportunity without interruption."

Orlando officials share lessons learned from Pulse shooting

More than 200 public relations health care professionals from across the nation listened intently to City of Orlando and Orlando Health representatives explaining the lessons they learned after the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Orlando Health's Kena Lewis explained how the harrowing hours after the tragedy unfolded.

She said the early morning of June 12 started off slowly. Only half of the ER beds were taken and the staff, from doctors to nurses, were getting ready for their 3 a.m. shift change, but everything changed in an instant.

Lewis said the first patient came in at 2:14 a.m. and the stream of wounded didn't stop.

Ultimately 44 victims would make it through the emergency room doors, with nine dying before ever reaching an operating room.

But of those who did make it into surgery, Lewis explained, nobody else died.

"Ever since the Pulse tragedy, I and our administrators through the hospital, physicians at the hospital and surgeons at the hospital have been traveling around the country speaking to our counterparts at other hospitals letting them know this could happen to you. Be prepared," Lewis said.

However, Lewis told the crowd nothing could really prepare anyone for the horror that would continue to unfold and she spoke of some of the lessons Orlando Health learned.

Lessons like knowing who on the staff spoke Spanish and could to talk to the nearly 250 friends and family who crammed in the emergency room, anxiously waiting for any news of their loved ones.

She also learned that in a mass casualty situation, certain patient privacy rules (HIPAA) didn't apply.

City of Orlando spokeswoman Heather Fagan said the city, while on the phone with the U.S. president's office, got approval from the top for Orlando Health to release how many patients they had, how many surgeries they did and when the patients would be released.

Lessons learned in Orlando are now being shared with the world.

"In this day and age it could happen anywhere," Lewis said. "Our No. 1 message is you must be prepared. You have to practice it, you have to drill it, you have to have a process in place so you know what to do when and if this happens."

Sex offender accused of kidnapping, raping teen in Sanford

The Sanford Police Department arrested a man Tuesday who authorities said kidnapped a 15-year-old teen from a Sanford Walmart parking lot and raped her.

Police said Samuel Lee Hardy Jr., who is a registered sex offender for raping a 16-year-old in 2010, ordered the victim who was walking in the Walmart parking lot into his car by knifepoint on Feb. 8. Hardy then drove the teen to Washington Oaks where he raped her, police said.

Hardy drove the victim back to the Walmart store and told her not to tell anyone about what took place, police said.

The sexual battery kit tested positive for Hardy’s DNA. Hardy has been charged with one count of kidnapping, one count of forced sexual battery with a weapon on a victim 12 years or older and two counts of violation of probation.

Hardy was released on sexual offender status from the Florida Department of Corrections in February 2016 after serving six years. He was convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl at knifepoint in 2010 in Volusia County.

In that case, court records show that the victim told police Hardy was holding a knife and telling her not resist or struggle as he raped her.

"Obviously there's a pattern in his behavior,” Sanford police public information officer Bianca Gillett said.

"It concerns us there are possible other instances that occurred in the year that he was released," Gillett said. 

Police are urging anyone who may have had similar interaction with Hardy to contact them or Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.

Despite his previous conviction and a new accuser, Hardy's finance went to his first appearance today to defend him.

"I'm not saying that he didn't engage in anything sexual, but I don't think it was with a knife or force or kidnapping or any of that," Lashavia Hill said. 

Hardy remains in the Seminole County Jail. 

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