FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Despite four people being injured in three shooting incidents earlier this week, gunfire is down from last year, according to police.
“The department has seen a 33 percent drop in incidents of shooting activity and a 23 percent drop in people being struck by bullets when comparing the numbers from 2013 and 2014,” said Fort Pierce Police spokesman Sgt. Jason Braun.
The 2014 numbers include 10 deaths in eight homicide incidents.
As of Wednesday, police recorded 81 incidents of gunfire. Of those, 37 people were hit by bullets.
During the same time last year, the city had 120 verified shooting incidents in which 48 people were shot.
Most of the city’s violent crime — now and in the past — occurs in Lincoln Park. That includes Avenue D that at one time was known as the “Crack Capital of America,” according to a February report by the Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation, Inc., Tallahassee.
Lincoln Park, in the city’s northwest section, has disproportionate poverty and low educational rates, according to U.S. Census data.
In 2005, the FBI’s annual crime report showed the city ranked 25th in the nation in violent crime and 82nd in overall crime among areas with populations exceeding 10,000.
This year’s homicide count matches the number in 2005, but is below the 16 recorded in 2000 and 15 in 2003, state records show. Homicides dropped off from 2006 to 2010 when the numbers ranged from four to one annually.
The commission that reaccredited the police department this year, said police and the community from 2006 and 2009 “achieved tremendous success in reducing overall crime and even better success in reducing violent crime in its most troubled neighborhoods.”
Avenue D was modernized by an urban renewal project, “a tribute to the city’s commitment to revitalizing blighted areas,” the commission’s report states.
Then in 2011, the number of killings spiked again to 11, despite overall crime being down. In 2013, there were seven killings in Fort Pierce.
In 2013 there was a citizens outcry that was coupled with increased law enforcement efforts to combat the violence that police say often involves people linked to gangs.
On Sept. 19, the city police department announced it is getting a $203,000, two-year federal grant to help reduce the influence of gangs in Lincoln Park.
Another federal grant, received last year, is paying for three community policing officers to work more closely with neighborhoods.
Amid the crime, “the greatest challenge for the Fort Pierce Police department is maintain success in an atmosphere of declining resources,” the commission report said. The department’s annual budget is $12.6 million.
Article source: http://www.wptv.com/news/region-st-lucie-county/fort-pierce/fewer-shootings-in-fort-pierce-area-so-far-this-year-compared-to-2013