WEST PALM BEACH - A mile north of downtown West Palm Beach, one community is trying to kick crime to the curb.
“Every car that enters into the neighborhood, we have a license plate reader that picks up their license plate,” said Matt Chambers, a resident of Old Northwood. “Those are some of our cameras right there, and they go out throughout the whole neighborhood.”
Cameras, license plate readers, Smartwater forensic coding systems: that is just some of the neighborhood tech in Old Northwood. Chambers told Contact 5 he thinks tools like this are affecting their neighborhood crime rate.
“I believe crime is down. I feel safe,” he said. “I feel like it’s down.”
Chambers is right. Recently released data provided by the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement show, for the first half of 2018, overall crime went down 21 percent in West Palm Beach.
Property crimes, like burglary and larceny, went down even more, by 26 percent.
(Scroll down to see property crime rates in your city or county.)
“Yeah, I would probably say that is correct, except for our property,” said North End resident Colleen Tress, with a laugh. “We just got a rock thrown through [our window].”
Tress and her husband have lived off Tamarind Ave. for more than 13 years, and run their ministry, Bow Down Church, in a small corner building nearby.
“It ebbs and flows,” Tress said of crime in the area. “It seems like lately, we have had some issues. The other night, I woke up to some gunshots.”
Like Chambers in Old Northwood, Tress is right too. While overall crime and property crimes are down in West Palm Beach, compared to the first six months of 2017, violent crimes are slightly up.
When crime analysts assess the safety of a given area, they often look at two types of crimes: violent crime and property crime. Violent crimes include murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Property crimes include burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.
It helps explain why overall crime could be down, but violent crime could be up.
But West Palm Beach Police say they are even more prepared to handle the changing crime trends, thanks to the city’s new Crime Center.
“We do not want to react on data that is a month old,” said Sgt. David Lefont, with the West Palm Beach Police Dept. “A month is a long time, and trends can change from week to week, day to day.”
The city approved the $1.2 million Crime Center earlier this year, which includes ShotSpotter, a technology that the Riviera Beach Police Department and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office in Belle Glade already use.
Lefont says technology like license plate readers and city cameras will also help fight crime.
However, there is one thing outside of our high tech world that both cops and the community rely on.
“One of the things that our neighborhood does is work closely with the police department,” said Chambers. “Instead of just complaining about things, we want to know how we can help.”
“We are here for you,” said Lefont. “If you know something or you see something, please call us.”
Use the interactive graphs below to see how property crime rates and violent crime rates compare in your area. You can also see overall crime trends in the map below that. If the graphs do not load, click on their respective links above.