Dunbar crime rates cut nearly in half

By Chuck Weber

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - On the one year anniversary of the rape of a mother and son at Dunbar Village in West Palm Beach, police say, crime at the public housing complex is down.

On Wednesday West Palm Beach Police released crime statistics showing a big drop. In the first five and a half months of this year, the number of serious crimes at Dunbar was just 15, compared to 29 last year, a drop of almost 50 percent.

For example, robberies fell from 4 to 1 and burglaries went from 6 to 3. The only category with an increase, forcible sex offenses - like rape - rose from zero to one.

"To me any double digit decrease in crime, in any area, is excellent," says West Palm Beach Assistant Chief Dennis Crispo. He credits several efforts by police and housing authority, some started before the Dunbar rape a year ago.

Crispo says, "We've been really trying to impact that area for quite some time, and it takes a while because...  the drug culture has been imbedded down there."

Do the people who live at Dunbar agree crime is down? Longtime resident Gloria Caison believes more patrols by police and private security are making a difference. "They ran away a lot of the boys, the drug boys," says Caison.

Brittany Dale, a mother of four small children, moved to Dunbar in February very aware of last year's rape and the complex's reputation. "I really didn't want to come out here at first because I was a little scared," says Dale. "But it's okay out here. I haven't had any problems. My kids come out here; they love coming outside to play every day."

A greater feeling of security is not the only positive sign at Dunbar Village these days.  Brenda Ali, president of the new Dunbar resident council, recited a list of social activities and programs, her group had already held or plans to stage for residents in the weeks ahead.

And in the neighborhood surrounding the complex, there are more encouraging developments.  Howard Waugh is working to open a new Jamaican jerk and barbecue restaurant at Tamarind Avenue and 15th Street, across the street from Dunbar.  Waugh says he's aware of the area's reputation, but insists it's a good location near downtown, schools, and other new businesses on Tamarind.

An account has been set up to help support the victims. If you'd like to donate, you can send checks to:

St. Ann's Catholic Church
"Dunbar Victim Assistance Fund"
310 North Olive Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33401