West Palm Beach, Fla. - A West Palm Beach neighborhood is doing the best it can to police itself in the wake a 4-year old girl being shot in the face.
Investigators say she was the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting. Police say they will be offering a cash reward in that case. Investigators are not saying how large that reward will be.
Last week's shooting on Windsor Avenue was the last straw for some neighbors who say they are struggling to combat crime and a host of other problems. For eleven years, Bob Beaulieu has called the Northwood Hills neighborhood his home. He is also the president of the neighborhood association. Beaulieu says life here has changed in recent years.
"This area was in very good shape, and since then unfortunately it has backslid," he said.
Crime has been a constant problem. Since the beginning of the year, West Palm Beach police say they have received hundreds of calls for service in the neighborhood. One of them was last week when investigators say a 4 year old was shot in the face - the unintended victim of a drive-by shooting. Incredibly, Krystal Black is now recovering at home but there have been no arrests.
Beaulieu says people here are scared to speak up about this and other crimes.
"You don't want to be identified as a troublemaker because trouble will come to you," he said.
Northwood Hills does have its own neighborhood crime watch. But over the years, participation and success have dwindled.
"It's the fear of having them to go to court and testify or fear of retaliation," said Lt. Tony Spatara of the West Palm Beach Police Department. "But in some investigations there is that fear," he said.
This neighborhood looks different than it used to, with more abandoned and rundown homes than before. Longtime residents feel that it may be a big part of the crime problem. Beaulieu says fewer residents, means fewer people to take pride in their neighborhood, to report criminal activity, to want to call this place their home.
"I'm here for the long haul but I also at the same time wish I could just carve out my property and move it someplace else," he said.
Police are increasing bicycle patrols in that neighborhood. They say that can be perceived as less intimidating than an officer in a police cruiser. Soon they will be offering a reward, hoping for information and for arrests in that case.
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