Sanford police say efforts to clean up troubled neighborhood working

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SANFORD, Fla. - In its first two days, Sanford's new neighborhood-response policing unit has put 19 people behind bars.

The majority of those going to jail are going for small crimes. According to police, that's a part of their strategy.

Cellphone video obtained by Channel 9 Eyewitness News shows just how terrifying it can be to live in the Seminole Gardens Apartments in Sanford. Six shots were fired into a car Wednesday morning while children were playing nearby.

"I'm a mother of six and what if one of my children would have been in the car with me," said Christina Grant, who lives in the apartment complex.

Sanford police say the apartment complex is a hotspot for crime.

WFTV learned that the new policing unit is stopping everyone they see around the apartments, to get more names and faces into their system.

"If people are walking around late at night, in places where they probably shouldn't be, they can expect to encounter the neighborhood response unit," said Lt. Jim McAuliffe of the Sanford Police Department.

Offenses that might have brought just a warning in the past, like not having a light on a bicycle, are now sending people to jail.

Those smaller crimes are putting new names and mug shots into Sanford's system, according to police.

On Tuesday, Eugene Anderson and John Moore were stopped for not having taillights. Police said they found drugs on the men.

During the unit's first night on the street the same type of stop resulted in police finding a man with a warrant out for his arrest, and a gun on him, police said.

"These crimes, and contacting more people, generates more data into solving crimes that have occurred," said McAuliffe.

Police hope it will all help them resolve some of the many unsolved shootings the city has seen.

"These are people who have forfeited the right to live among us, and they need to be housed by the Department of Corrections," said McAuliffe. "We have to find them, and we're about finding them now."

The shooting captured on cellphone video Wednesday was solved within a few hours.

Police said they do know some of the key players behind those unsolved shootings but are still looking for several others.