St. Lucie Sheriff's Office opens new substation

Posted at 11:11 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 05:37:42-04

Sgt. Suzanne Woodward walks through the Garden Terrace neighborhood of northwestern Fort Pierce.  She looks around and sees improvements.  Improvements she wants her agency to continue to be a part of.

“Kind of build that bridge to hopefully make things better," she says 

After 25 years on the job, some changes are small changes, but good ones.

“A little guy today had his hat on and it’s a police hat.  It’s been ages since I’ve seen a child wear a police uniform," said Woodward while smiling.

She walks to First Step Park, where the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office is joined by police and others playing football and interacting with the community on Tuesday nights.  But this isn’t the only place where change is happening.  

The sheriff’s office opened a new substation next to the Boys and Girls Club on Avenue J.  Tuesday night, there is an open house with dozens of kids having a pizza party.

“It puts a law enforcement presence in this community and one that we can use to build great relationships in this community," said Sheriff Ken Mascara.

Opening a substation in the wake of the First Step program hopes to continue a recent trend of success in the Garden Terrace neighborhood.  According to crime stats provided by the sheriff's office, between October and April 2015 and October and April of this year, major crime is down 90 percent.

Here at the new substation, children engage in conversation with officers.

“I like coming here and it’s fun to take pictures with the officers," says second grader Shawn Brown.

And parents see the improvements as well.

“I think the crime has gone down since they put it there.  It protects the kids so I think it’s a good idea for the most part," said Jerlaina Phillips.

This new substation opening as the Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the death of Demarcus Semer, 21, who was shot and killed last month by Fort Pierce police.  The sheriff says their investigation should wrap up by mid to late June.

Mascara said the city of Fort Pierce's desire to bring the Department of Justice in to also look at the case has no impact on their work.