Delray neighbors organizing against violence

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Despite recent outbursts of crime, stats say overall numbers are down

Hours after dialing 911 to report drug activity in her west side neighborhood in Delray Beach, Sheryl Jerkins was sitting in a community meeting at Village Academy, still fuming.

My mother is elderly. She's got to smell that stuff everyday. And I'm sick and tired of it, " said Jerkins.

She was one of about thirty west side neighbors who sat for an hour grilling a Delray Beach Police captain about safety.

He said arrests have been made in three of four recent shootings that gripped the city with their chilling images and that officers are focusing on hotspots.

"You can say crime is down all day long, but if you fear crime, it makes no difference when I say crime is down 23.8 percent," said Capt. Coleman of the city's police department.

The city is divided up into 9 precincts or beats.

Beats 5 and 6, in the areas north and south of Atlantic Ave., the gateway to Delray, there were 70 violent crimes in beat 5 and 88 in beat 6. That's more than the rest of the city, but down 9% and 25% over the previous year.

Neighborhood groups say the city's focus can turn to them now.

"We are not that much high in number. But we are together," said Ann Wright of the Southwest Neighborhood Association.

But Jerkins says that more needs to be done to combat the developing image amongst some residents that Delray Beach has become a one-street town, that Delray Beach is Atlantic Ave. or bust.

This as the city is putting up a giant archway welcoming people to town, in the very neighborhood where residents say they need help.

Number one on her list: jobs for young people.

"They're all about Atlantic Avenue, but they're not about the inner-city, the north side and the south side. Those are the things they need to focus on," said Jerkins.

The CRA does say they're making a concerted effort in the areas she mentioned, that they've put well over $20 million into improving those communities since the early 90's.

Police indicated tonight that they were close to making an arrest in the double homicide that happened on West Atlantic Ave.


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