WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – As questions mount over what lead to Belle Glade’s latest night-time bullet blast, crime numbers obtained by the Contact 5 Investigators are raising new questions over whether enough is being done to stop the violence here.
“We know that not enough has been done,” Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said. “You know, it’s not the responsibility as The Sheriff to do everything, it’s the community’s responsibility.”
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office has been patrolling streets in Belle Glade since July 2006, when the office took over the Belle Glade Police Department. While state numbers show violent crime in this sugar farm city is down, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the worst of crime is on the rise.
Between 2000 and 2005, the year before the Sheriff’s Office took over duties in Belle Glade, the city reported nine murders. From 2007 to 2011, the period after the merge, murders have tripled.
The Contact 5 Investigators took these stats to Sheriff Bradshaw Tuesday afternoon. “It has nothing to do with who took over,” Bradshaw said. “The crime rate in Belle Glade has gone down since we took over that agency.”
Since 2006, the City of Belle Glade has paid more than $18 million to the Sheriff’s Office for its services. There are 37 sworn officers on patrol in the city and long term plans now include a stricter code enforcement.
It’s the kind of efforts that aim to make a dent in a city known for its farms and its criminal fury.
Investigative Producer Lynn Walsh contributed to this story.
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