From the Orange County Newsroom
After seven shootings involving children under the age of 17 in the fall of 2020, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings created a Citizens Safety Task Force aimed at reducing and preventing gun violence and violent crime in the community. The most recent task force meeting on December 9, 2020 included presentations by two nationally-recognized crime prevention experts.
Antonio Cediel, Ph.D. helps lead the national LIVE FREE Campaign to end urban gun violence and mass incarceration. He presented on community-based violence intervention and cited how different community-based models have succeeded in reducing gun violence in specific cities.
Randy B. Nelson, Ph.D., currently serves as the director of the Bethune-Cookman University Criminal Justice Administration Graduate Program and Center for Law & Social Justice. Nelson presented on effective community engagement and discussed the impact of perception and how that can cause mistrust, ill will and fear.
Task force members received updates from the four subcommittees focusing on prevention, intervention, enforcement and prosecution.
The Prevention subcommittee has completed an assessment of youth needs and distribution of resources, especially in high violent crime rate areas, and also conducted a review of existing prevention programs and services. Next steps include identifying root causes for violent crimes for at-risk children and youth and identifying programs that provide effective alternatives to gang recruitment.
The Intervention subcommittee completed a review of existing intervention programs, and outlined how that type of engagement can be enhanced. Next steps include reviewing juvenile arrest data and conducting joint meetings with community organizations and members.
The Enforcement subcommittee analyzed law enforcement concerns regarding effective programs, identified strategies so law enforcement can mobilize with the community and how it can work with other agencies. Apopka Police Chief Mike McKinley serves on this committee, as does Captain Jerome Miller, another member of the Task Force, when McKinley must miss a meeting. Next steps include talking with mental health professionals to determine how law enforcement can best work with them.
The Prosecution subcommittee identified strategies to build community trust and confidence. It also analyzed the prevalence of domestic violence and how this is overlaid in the mapping of violence and murder in the county. Next steps include looking at successful violence prevention programs that address these specific issues.
In addition, the Task Force is conducting an online crime survey, which can be accessed at ocfl.net/CrimeSurvey. You can also view the meetings and minutes for Orange County Citizens Safety Task Force Members and Subcommittees.
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