WPB PD hopeful for grant to combat violence

Posted at 6:11 PM, Apr 11, 2016

Getting guns and gangs off the streets. That’s the goal of the West Palm Beach Police Department, and it’s hoping a half million dollar grant will help do that.

Monday night, the West Palm Police Department will be asking the City Commission’s permission to apply for this federal grant.

This comes on the heels of not only a violent week of shootings, but a deadly summer almost one year ago.

Ricky Aiken knows too well the pain of gun violence in his neighborhood.

“Your life is in danger and on the line even just walking to the store,” said Aiken.

His good friend Johnny Davis was shot and killed last September.  Davis’ death was part of a deadly string of shootings on the city’s north-end last summer.

It was loss that motivated Aiken to take action. “Getting young people to see past the allure of the street life has become my goal.”

While Aiken believes the change needs to come from within the community, he says its also a partnership with police. That is why Aiken is hopeful about a $500,000 grant that the West Palm Beach Police Department is after to help fight crime.

“I’m thankful that law enforcement is realizing that the current state of affairs or the resources that they have now isn’t enough to solve the problems,” said Aiken.

It's a U.S. Department of Justice grant under Project Safe Neighborhoods.

The goal of grant is to reduce violent gang and gun crime.

The grant will help fund anti-gang task forces, new training, and money for overtime, research and equipment.

While the police and city have tip-toed around the term ‘gang,’ both have recognized a “clique” or “group” problem.

“We need someone in place to try and get the guns off the streets,” said Pastor Henry Green, who is also hopeful for the grant.

His congregation, the Payne Chapel AME Church, is located just blocks from where some of the deadliest shootings have happened.

His congregation is still feeling the pain of the violence, even now.

“It’s a positive step for the police department to secure the resources to better serve and protect our neighborhoods.”

The police department will be requesting the City’s authorization to submit the grant application at Monday night’s City Commission meeting which starts at 5pm.