New Orlando police chief: Youth violence growing as overall violence declines

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Youth violence took center stage at a town hall organized by Orlando police Tuesday night.


The city’s new police chief, Eric Smith, said youth violence is growing, even as overall violence declines.

“I think in a lot of aspects, it’s getting worse,” Smith told Channel 9. “And I will say it’s interesting to me when I have to go out there and arrest the 14-year-old … (who) should be out there playing sports and doing fun things.”

Community members told Chief Eric Smith that they’re tired of seeing 14-year-olds shoot one another, and now he’s asking for help.

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“We shouldn’t have to be afraid for our children to walk home,” one person said during the town hall.

Recently, guns overtook car crashes as the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States.

While many of those cases are accidental, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists homicides as the No. 2 cause of shootings among teens, ahead of suicides.

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Smith said he’s overhauled several things about the way his department is run, and solutions are being looked into. He mentioned bulking up mentorships to address the reason the violence is increasing.

Smith also said he wants members of the community to throw their hats into the ring and send him suggestions for things he may not be thinking of and tapping into a wider sense that the community as a whole needs to be more involved.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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