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Frustration, anger mount as crime spree continues in Miami Gardens

Mayor, commission approve $20K fund to elicit community “tips”

D. Kevin McNeir | 8/22/2013, noon
Residents of Miami Gardens are in an uproar — angry and frustrated by a recent wave of shootings and deaths ...

Residents of Miami Gardens are in an uproar — angry and frustrated by a recent wave of shootings and deaths that have rocked the relatively young City to its core. In the last several weeks, unscrupulous criminals have shot into homes and

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Gilbert

automobiles with little regard for human life. The first tragic shooting occurred on July 16th when Annette Anderson, 70 and her grandson, Tyrone Walker, Jr., 20, were murdered execution-style in their Miami Gardens home. Several weeks later, 12-year-old Tequila Forshee was killed in her home — her grandmother and 14-year-old sister also being injured but not mortally — when a hail of bullets pummeled their modest home. Hours after that shooting, two men were shot while in their car at a McDonald’s drive-thru window. Both men were in critical condition when they were airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

The irony in these recent shootings is that according to data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement [FDLE] released in 2012, Miami Gardens has continued its success in reducing crime for the fifth straight year. According to Deputy Chief Paul Miller, Miami Gardens Police Department, since the Department was formed in late 2007, the City’s Part I [serious/felony crime] has fallen over 40 percent. In fact, according to the FDLE report, Miami Gardens [in 2012] had a lower crime rate than cities that included: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando and St. Petersburg.

So what’s happening now in 2013, why are seeing this recent surge in shootings and what can be done to bring safety back to the residents of Miami Gardens? These and other questions are the hot topics for discussion in recent weeks — in barbershops, on street corners, on radio shows and even in community meetings.

Are residents willing to turn in known criminals?

About 75 concerned citizens met last Saturday at the weekly meeting of UP-PAC [Unrepresented People’s Positive Action Council], at Greater New Bethel Baptist Church in Miami Gardens. Speakers included: State Representatives Barbara Watson, Sharon Pritchett, Cynthia Stafford and State Senator Oscar Braynon II. The conversation segued from an update on legislation that the elected officials were working on to the challenges facing Miami Gardens. Each official said they have represented portions of Miami Gardens in the past or present, either because the City is part of their District or because of their work years ago as part of the council that worked towards the City’s incorporation. Their views were best summarized by UP-PAC’s founder and president emeritus, Betty T. Ferguson, who once served as a Miami-Dade County commissioner.

“Those of us who live in Miami Gardens are well aware of the crime situation — it’s on the news, the radio and television,” she said. “It’s all very frightening. This group has been meeting here for 27 years and we have consistently discussed the importance of community policing. We need the police to get out of their car, and get to know the people in the neighborhoods. We need the community to know the officers who are assigned to their areas. We’re being asked to tell what we know about criminal activities and we will as long as we know bad folks won’t know who told so they can come after us later. We need police that look like us and that live with us. Many of us are even afraid of the police and that’s not good.”