Palm Beach County gang crime down - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Palm Beach County gang crime down

By Chuck Weber email

LAKE WORTH, FL (WFLX)-While gang activity may be up in areas like Ft. Pierce, in Palm Beach County gang-related crime is actually down. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw credits a new approach to gangs, centered around intensive investigative work. Some neighborhoods are already feeling a difference.

Almost exactly two years ago we were reporting on one Palm Beach County gang-related shooting after another, including murders. One incident was a mass shooting on South "B" Street in Lake Worth. Three people were killed, four wounded. Investigators blamed it on one of the county's most notorious gangs.

"We knew it was going to happen," said Linda Hamilton, who lives down the street from the murder scene. "There was so much drug trafficking going through here. It was so open and we didn't feel like anything was done about it."

But then law officers started cracking down. Sheriff Bradshaw says in the past two years, the county's Violent Crime Task Force and Gang Unit have made more than 3,000 arrests, seized 400 vehicles, and dismantled two entire gangs. Statewide prosecutors, using racketeering laws, have already won lengthy sentences against some gang members.

"It's been labor intensive," said Sheriff Bradshaw. "But I equate to like when you're treating cancer. You can't just take a piece of it out and then hope that everything is going to be okay. You've got to take the whole thing out."

Hamilton says she's seen an improvement in her Lake Worth neighborhood. "I still see some of the same faces," she said. "But I don't see them dealing. I don't see nearly the amount of guys with the black shirts walking up and down the streets and stuff. I do feel it's making a difference around here as far as the gangs."

Sheriff Bradshaw acknowledges there's still lots of work to do related to gangs, and probably always will be. But what counts is the quality of life has improved in a number of neighborhoods.

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