NewsRegion S Palm Beach CountyBoynton Beach

Actions

Boynton community talks trust, policing with new chief

Posted at 10:42 PM, Dec 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-03 23:22:43-05

The Boynton Beach Police Chief hosted his first public meeting tonight since earning the job in July, with the goal of engaging the community and talk about where the city needs to go from here. 

The chief’s core message is to reduce crime through community engagement. 

Two to the topics Monday night: trust and growth. 

In the Heart of Boynton Beach, the police beat is listening and evolving, starting with its new Police Chief, Michael Gregory. 

“The community was very open, very frank. We had some serious discussions that were important to them,” he said after meeting in an interview. 

One of the issues: the frayed trust between police and community that Pastor Richard Dames asked him about directly.

“It’s a two-way street. It’s going to take the community as well as the police working hand in hand in order to build trust,” Dames said. 

“I think it started tonight. I think it’s going to continue. I’ve worked with Reverend Dames since I’ve been here. We’ve had a very open conversation on a number of occasions,” Gregory said. 

Willie Aikens is the president of the Heart of Boynton Beach Neighborhood Association. He asked about growth during the meeting. 

“With all the people that’s coming here with new development, 100’s and 100’s of houses being made, I asked the Chief what his plan was to have protection,” he said. 

“By augmenting what (the officers) do with technology,” Gregory said. “Better analyzing what our crime patterns are so we can put the officers right where the problems are. And then looking at the future growth of downtown and whats the right number of officers that we need.”

Crime recently has been down in Boynton. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said last week the first six months this year saw an 11% reduction compared to 2017. 

How will they keep that momentum?

One way is turning on a police car’s cruise lights nightly while on patrol. They are on the front, top, back and sides of all the marked cars. They are red and blue lights that let people know there is an officer there, even when there’s not an emergency. It helps improve their visibility and presence.

“This is what partnership looks like and this is where it starts for the first step or if building trust,” Gregory said. 

Violent crime is down by about 25%. So far this year there have been four murders. Last year there were nine.