BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Brevard County Sheriff Office stated the department is seeing results after a task force was formed to help combat youth violence.
What You Need To Know
- Sheriff Wayne Ivey says the task force has created positive trends
- He says there has been a drop in aggravated assaults, auto thefts
Four months ago, the sheriff's office was fed up with recent uptick in violence involving youth. It formed a new task force to help get violent offenders behind bars and help reach youth before they end up in trouble.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey pointed out that in the first six months of this year, Melbourne had almost 100 calls for shots fired.
Law enforcement wants to stop seeing young people killed and get them the help they need.
Ivey credits this multi-agency task force with:
- Getting 39 violent offenders behind bars.
- In June, Brevard County was seeing 20 cases of aggravated assaults and that dropped to 8 in September, a reduction of 60%.
- Auto thefts, which the sheriff said are common with youth, has dropped by 30%.
Federal, state and local law enforcement are involved in the effort and reaching out to young people.
"When school started back, that's an opportunity for us to get to these kids before they get to us, to get information on who is actually causing the problems trying to bring guns into schools, anything of that nature," Ivey said.
The sheriff said the department has taken 29 firearms off Brevard County streets and deputies are seeing a 66% decline in weapons cases.
The Real Church in Cocoa is part of this community outreach initiative from the sheriff's office, and the two have worked together for some time.
Pastor Jarvis Wash has served prison time and has lost loved ones to senseless violence.
They have a program with state funding working to help offenders once they are ready to re-enter the community.
"A guy getting out, instead of getting dropped off in the middle of the road in the middle of the night, to know he has somewhere to come," Wash said. "We don't house people, but we pay for that housing, we set up surveys and different things in advance that helps them, and reaches out to them before they ever get out of prison."
"My job is to work hard to stop them from getting to the backseat of a police car," he said.
The church has a new program in the works called the GOD project, which stands for Going in the Opposite Direction, that works with the Sheriff's Office and other partners.
Participants in the project are going to work with youth age 15-17 and will deal directly with the juvenile detention centers with their probation officers in eight sessions of mentorship.
"We secured 45 jobs from employers who then committed if these kids go through this then they will give them a job, 8 hours a week, $10 an hour," Wash said.
Ivey is pleased with these positive trends and said the task force will continue.
In June, State Attorney Phil Archer announced that in the task force, they'll look over some cases for federal prosecution, and his office is looking to prosecute some youth as adults in some violent crimes.
We checked in with the state attorney's office on any progress there.
Archer released this statement:
"As a partner in the Juvenile Violent Crime Task Force, we continue to fully support the ongoing efforts of Sheriff’ Wayne Ivey and Brevard County Chiefs of Police through this innovative multi-prong approach that includes outreach, intervention, and aggressive enforcement designed to identify and arrest the most serious youthful offenders in our communities
"With the closing of Florida’s courts earlier this year in response to the COVID pandemic, prosecution efforts have been placed on standby. However we remain committed to aggressively prosecuting 15 to 17-year-old offenders who utilize firearms or commit serious violent offenses, including moving cases to adult and federal court when appropriate."