New initiatives aimed at curbing summer gun violence in Orlando are paying off, chief says

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orange County leaders said their new initiatives to cut back on youth violence are working and keeping people safer.

“We modified the way we do business with some of our resources, and it’s paid off dividends,” Orlando police Chief Orlando Rolón said.

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Rolon said their push to cut back on crime is part of a larger, nationwide movement.

A concerted effort to cut back on crime in Orlando is paying off.

As summer approached, officials across the country were worried about a significant surge in gun violence.

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“If we continue to stay on this path where we are talking about it, but we’re not doing something about it, we will lose more lives,” Rolon said during an interview in June.

During that interview, Rolon also stated that Orlando police had already rolled out their summer plan, which included bulked-up patrols, overtime for officers, initiatives, partnerships, new operations and more crime analysts - all in an effort to bring crime down.

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It’s been more than a month since those resources were put in place. And according to Rolon, “We’ve actually seen things have leveled off.”

When looking at Orlando Police Department shooting statistics for Jan. 1 to June 10 this year, the department saw a 24% increase in gun violence as compared to last year. Just over a month later, that gap has closed significiantly.

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Orlando police are now reporting a 9% rise in shooting from Jan. 1 to July 15 this year compared to the same time frame in 2020.

“We’ve had out success in addressing the summer months that traditionally have been an area where we’ve seen an uptick in crime,” Rolon said.

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Channel 9 crunched the numbers, and there were actually more summer shootings last year than this year. From June 10-15 of 2020 OPD, recorded 50 shootings; during that same time this year, that number is down to 29.

The shift in the department’s strategy with additional boots on the ground has greatly contributed to mitigating the climb in gun violence. The department added the recent arrest of more than two dozen Central Florida gang members played a big role.

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“These gang members were committing crime on a daily basis,” Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation Director Ron Stucker said.

While law enforcement officials in Central Florida know more work needs to be done, other parts of the country have seen a worrisome summer spike in violence.

President Joe Biden recently met with law enforcement leaders at the White House to find solutions for gun violence.

Biden talked about targeting law-breaking gun dealers and providing federal resources to departments for gun-crime enforcement.

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“We can intervene before the violence erupts,” Biden said. “We can recognize that we have to come together to fill the first responsibility of the democracy, keep each other safe.”

Biden also said he encourages communities to repurpose money from federal coronavirus relief funding to hire more police officers and put in place new crime prevention programs.

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