Fort Pierce Police, St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office call first month of new task force a success

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office and the Fort Pierce Police Department are calling the first month of a joint task force a success.

A gang and gun task force was created in mid-June. The partnership has produced many arrests.

Fort Pierce Police Chief, Sean Baldwin, says the task force places an average of a dozen extra deputies or officers on the street every night, with the task of only looking for violent gang members and guns.

Baldwin says two people were arrested Friday night with guns. But over the last month, he says more than 100 people have been arrested. Baldwin says more than a dozen guns have been seized, as well as what he describes as a huge amount of drugs.

Fort Pierce resident, Viviene Hayes, makes sure she gets all of her errands done before 8 o'clock every night. "I lock my door and I have no problems," Hayes said. The 80-year-old says that's the time she locks up, even if the sun is still out. "You don't know who is out there. You don't know who is at your door," Hayes said.

She worries after one man was arrested earlier in the week just at the front of her street near the 2900 block of Avenue E. The task force arrested 22-year-old Elijah Maurice Bacon who officials say was illegally carrying a loaded 9 mm handgun.

Baldwin says the task force was created because of a rise in gun violence in 2013, with more than 130 shooting, or shots fired incidents.

Baldwin says while the violence hasn't been quite as bad this year, it hasn't subsided nearly as much as he wanted it to.

"It seems like overnight they're arresting 2 to 3 people that have guns. That's an immediate impact on the violent crime in our community," Baldwin explained.

Baldwin says unlike other task forces and partnerships in St. Lucie County and Fort Pierce, this is a more short term task force. He says because of that, there will be more immediate results.

"Well, I'm glad that they're taking them off the street. Im really glad of that," Hayes said.

Though it's labeled as a summer task force, Baldwin doesn't want that to be misleading. "Somebody asked me, 'when is it going to stop'? It will stop when the violent crime stops."


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