Call for peace in Riviera Beach

There’s a call for peace and a call to put down weapons in Riviera Beach following three weekend shootings in which five people were hit and one was killed.

Riviera Beach Police Chief Clarence Williams says his department has leads in the case and a good idea who was involved.

Neighbors began gathering Monday evening for a peace walk.

Chief Williams says those individuals involved in the gang-related shooting are cowards and that they do not represent the face of Riviera Beach.

“Our community is simply not going to render itself to the thugs that have no qualms about driving up and down the street settling their disputes shooting out car windows at each other."

He says despite the weekend gunfire, his statistics show that crime has decreased in the city since last year.

He says the city has recorded 6 fatalities so far.

But the chief says residents should have nothing to fear.

"Your community is a safe community. Please do not be alarmed by this isolated incident involving individuals who are acting badly and there is no level of law enforcement that could have been in place to predict or prevent acts of violence,” Williams said.

The chief says many communities deal with gang problems.

West Palm Beach Detective James Lewis knows that firsthand.  

Officer Lewis is part of the West Palm Beach Police Department Gang Specialist Unit.  The department just won a state award for its RIP program, which helps at-risk juveniles.  "We basically meet with them once a month, just to give them different avenues, different resources that they can use to better themselves as members of the community."

Since November, 40 at-risk youth have received their GED as well as job training after attending the RIP program.  "We created this operation against violence and we were basically able to touch the lives of many, not just offenders but families as well."

Editor's note: The West Palm Beach Police Department says the actual number of documented gangs in West Palm is 30.


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