West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah Mooney plans to expand programs for youth in north end of city

Posted at 11:23 PM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 04:33:03-05
West Palm Beach police's top cop walked the streets in the Tamarind corridor for the first time as chief.
Chief Sarah Mooney is no stranger to the peace in the streets walk, but now as the head of the police department she has plans to expand programs to help the youth in the north end of the city. 
The "Peace in the Streets" walks started out as an effort to prevent shootings after a summer of violence in 2015. Now, the walk has evolved to offer resources to community members. 
"One of the supervisors that's over the clean team came and talked to my mom and I was looking for a job and I got in," said Derrek Johnson. 
Taking young men like Johnson off the streets is a top priority for newly sworn in Mooney. She's been a part of the peace in the street walks since the string of homicides sparked outrage in the community. 
"They finally said enough is enough and you do get spikes sometimes, 2015 was kind of an anomaly and everybody was just kind of shaking their heads like how are we going to stop this?" said Mooney. 
Since then, Mooney says officers have changed the way they interact with locals.
"The idea that our officers are getting out of their cars a little bit more, they're trying to engage the community a little more," said Mooney. 
The Mayor's Village initiative is going a step further. The city granted funds to the Urban League to recruit young men ages 18 to 24 for job training. The Urban Youth Works Program will try to help young men in the north end of the city find work.
"The goal is to once we recruit them, they'll go to the Urban League, learn some soft skills training and that they are placed in jobs in businesses that the Urban League has relationships with," said Kevin Jones, Coordinator of Community Initiatives, City of West Palm Beach. "Once a young man sees his friend get this opportunity, the hope is that it will spread."
Officers are also working with the city to connect teens and young adults with or without arrest records to resources that can help them get their GED's, even help get them jobs. 
"I'd like to expand the programs that we already have initially because you don't want to bite off more than you can chew. We have some really good programs in place that really takes certain individuals to run them and expand them," added Mooney.