Fort Pierce neighborhood says police patrols reduced violence

Police hit the streets for National Night Out

FORT PIERCE, Fla.-- Tuesday marks the 30th anniversary for National Night Out, a night where police hit the streets to talk to residents about their safety and solutions to violence.

Fort Pierce Police Chief Sean Baldwin stopped in 9 neighborhoods as he works on new ways to make the city safer.

One of those neighborhoods, Madison Cay, has seen a drastic transformation for the better.

Shana Costilla has lived in the neighborhood for 4 years. She says violence used to be all too common.

"Somebody went inside somebody's house and shot somebody and three other people got hit," she explained of recent violence. Gun violence, fights, and robberies were a nightly occurrence.

Seeing police in her neighborhood was typically an unwelcome sight. "That's pretty much what you saw police cars out here for, just negative stuff," Costilla explained.

In the 4 years living there, she says her kids have only been to the playground a couple times, as she worried something could happen to them.

But in the last few months, Costilla has noticed a big change. There hasn't been one shooting in several months since police started making daily patrols there, not just when there's a problem.

Police presence is no longer a bad sign.

"Just having them around in our community, I think thats' the main reason why [violence] has subsided the way it has," said Costilla.

But Baldwin says there is still plenty of work to be done. "Though a week has gone by without an injury from gun shots, we still have work to do."

Baldwin met with more than a dozen other city, county, and state leaders with about 800 Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County residents to develop an action plan to target violence last week.

Since then, Baldwin says he has sent out orders to all of his officers to make foot and bike patrols a part of every shift indefinitely.

Starting next week, he will also be handing letters to the parents of gang members to warn them about what their kids are doing.

The goal is to keep police presence and trust from the community high.

"I'm glad that that's a part of our neighborhood now," said Castillo.

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