New construction projects have seen an increase across Southwest Florida in recent months
With the construction industry slowly making its way back from recent tough economic times, law enforcement and industry officials want to be proactive.
Which, is why the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is bringing back its liaison to the building industry position. The program was originally created, when the industry was at its peak in the mid 2000’s. With the boom of construction projects, came a boom of construction site theft. With the retirement of then liaison Corporal Joel Bennett and the decline in construction projects in 2009, emphasis was taken off the program. Now that projects are beginning again, Sheriff Mike Scott felt it was the right time to focus attention back on the program.
Now seeing an increase in construction activity for the first time in a number of years, the department has appointed Deputy First Class Darryl Aubuchon to act as the liaison between the department and building industry. Aubuchon will work with the Cape Coral Construction Industry (CCCIA), as well as the Lee County Building Industry (BIA), to address the industry’s needs across Lee County regarding illegal activity and its prevention within the construction industry.
Aubuchon, no stranger to the construction industry, would seem to be the perfect candidate for this job. Before starting at the Sheriff’s Department five years ago, Aubuchon was a fixture in the construction industry. In 1991, he and his brother Gary started Aubuchon Homes. For the next two decades, he became heavily involved in the industry associations, including serving as Cape Coral Construction Industry Association president in 2006, which made him an intricate part of the process of developing many of the regulations used by the local industry today.
With his vast knowledge of the industry, local building officials feel he is the perfect fit for the job, “Who better for this position than Darryl,” says CCCIA incoming president Brian Rist. “Darryl was very much a part of many of the codes and regulations seen today. He has the experience behind him to understand what the industry is going through.
Aubuchon began his new position only a week ago, and has been working around the clock to get up to speed. He says his first priority is to begin addressing the needs of the industry, “I want to know what the needs are regarding site thefts, illegal dumping, and any other issues the industry has that falls within the scope of the sheriff’s office.”
He says to accomplish that, he will attend as many functions, meetings and events he possibly can in an effort to speak one-on-one with as many industry leaders and members as possible, “Many of these problems are solved through communication. That is my job. To communicate, find out problems determine solutions, and work with the building industry to come up with creative ideas to stop and prevent illegal activities happening on job sites.”
Educating those in the industry will be a focus for both the sheriff’s department and the industry itself. With a high focus on prevention, “For us, there are two parts to the process; what to do after a crime is committed, and preventing the crime from happening in the first place,” says Rist. “It is important to teach us more from a professional law enforcement view on how to prevent the crimes from happening. So, we can, hopefully, avoid it from happening. That would be the ideal situation.”
In order to make that happen, the CCCIA says information is essential, “We need to know the laws and how they apply to us. That is the kind of information we want to get in the hands of our members,” says current CCCIA president Anthony Greco.
While, the efforts between law enforcement and the industry will certain benefit local builders, those benefits will also trickle down to the consumer. Aubuchon says many people do not realize how construction site thefts and things like illegal contractors affect them, “If someone comes in and steals appliances from a home, which could affect the closing, which in turn affects when a family could move into their home.”
Aubuchon says during his time in the industry he saw such instances happen more frequently than most would expect. Leaving the new home owner scrambling for a place to stay, costing them thousands in temporary housing and storage costs.
Working together, both the department and the industry hopes to make such situations a thing of the past, “Our goal is to be proactive and stop crimes before they happen. Having this relationship goes a long way into making that happen,” says Aubuchon.
Next, Aubuchon along with Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott will speak at the CCCIA’s next monthly dinner meeting regarding the program. The meeting is scheduled for August 8.
For more information about the meeting or the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association, visit www.cccia.org, or call (239) 772-0027.