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Gang-related drive-by shootings committed by teens on the rise in Orlando

In the year since Chief Eric Smith has led the police department, violent crime has gone down by 10 percent and about 36 percent more guns are off the streets.
In the year since Chief Eric Smith has led the police department, violent crime has gone down by 10%. But there's a new trend in youth crime hitting the city.

Orlando Police Chief Eric Smith is calling on the Central Florida community to help curb a trend of violent crimes committed by young people.

In the year since Chief Eric Smith has led the police department, violent crime has gone down by 10% and about 36% more guns are off the streets.

Still, Smith says he needs the community’s help when it comes to intervening with young people.

There’s been an uptick in gang-related drive-by shootings committed by teens.

“So we need to make some differences in these children's lives and give them other outlets. I mean, we can't do it alone. Of course we have our Junior Reserve Program. We run it at a few of the high schools. We run it at Jones High School. We run it at Lake Nona. We have another program at Boone High School," said Smith. "We have our Operation Positive Direction, our mentorship program, but there's a whole lot of other things we need to do to touch a whole lot more youths out there.” 

He called on community members to reach out to these teens through after-school and mentorship programs to show them a different path.

“You know there’s Boys and Girls Clubs. The city has a rec program. We need to get the kids involved in other things that will basically take up their time and you know, show them there’s a better way to do things because we're having way too many of these shootings," said Smith.

On the practical side of things, he urged residents and young people to alert the police if they see gangs talking about planned shootings on social media. He also said residents should store their guns at home and not in their cars to prevent crimes being carried out with stolen weapons.

OPD will start passing out doorbell cameras in neighborhoods where gang activity is present.

A 6-year-old was shot and killed in a drive-by last month in Carver Shores. Four teens have been arrested in her murder.

A shooting on Easter in the same neighborhood left three dead. It involved a teen assailant. And in February, a teen shot and killed three people in the Pine Hills neighborhood including former WMFE intern, reporter Dylan Lyons.

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter and fill-in host at WMFE.
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