ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings took a step toward finding solutions to recent violent crime on Wednesday.
A gang feud that seemed to heat up in April has since led to the murders of children just 3 and 14 years old, and shootings that have left dozens injured.
Earlier this month, the violence spilled over to the Mall at Millenia, where innocent shoppers were caught off-guard when investigators said gang members got in a shootout.
In the wake of the violence, Demings said hundreds of people reached out to get a seat on his citizen-led safety task force. In the end, 36 people were chosen.
“We want to quickly get after the business of making recommendations and then executing those recommendations to make our community a safer community,” Demings said.
The mayor said while the Orange County sheriff and Orlando police chief will each have a seat on the new citizens' safety task force, it will be led by everyday residents from leaders in education, churches, the business community and even a former gang member and social justice activists.
The group is diverse, and the mayor said that’s intentional because the conversation about reducing crime shouldn’t be focused on just one neighborhood.
Much of the recent crime has been centered in and around Pine Hills.
“We may live in a community where we don’t have a sense of crime, where there’s nothing happening that would cause us to have fear and we can kind of drift along and ignore the fact that in other areas there is a real problem,” said Jim Coffin, Orange County Citizen Safety Task Force chair.
The task force will hold public meetings at Orlando Magic Community Centers across Orange County over the next four months, and then present their recommendations to the county commission.
The meetings are open to the public in person and will be accessible through a livestream. The first meeting is Friday, Nov. 6 at 1:30 p.m. at the Barnett Magic Center.