Orange County Commissioners Accept New Citizens Safety Task Force Recommendations
Thirty community leaders reconvened to help reduce and prevent gun violence and violent crime
Orange County, FL – Today, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners accepted a new series of recommendations made by the Orange County Citizens Safety Task Force. Comprised of more than 30 local community leaders, the task force recently spent three months re-examining recommendations and exploring strategies to reduce gun violence and violent crime countywide.
“The Board’s acceptance of these recommendations concludes the work of the Citizens Safety Task Force. Now, we will begin working with community stakeholders to implement the recommendations,” says Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “The work of the task force and the recommendations developed will help strengthen our roadmap to prevent and reduce gun violence and violent crime.”
The Citizens Safety Task Force was originally convened in 2020, and released a series of recommendations that were accepted by the Board in 2021. After a violent incident in Pine Hills earlier this year that claimed the lives of three people, Mayor Demings reconvened the task force with their first meeting taking place in March. Their mission was to re-examine the original recommendations and make any needed modifications toward reducing and preventing violent crime in the community. From March through June 2023, the task force held a series of community meetings at various locations throughout Orange County.
The task force was divided into four subcommittees: Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement, and Prosecution. Each subcommittee had a specific focus and held public meetings to address their recommendations.
Prevention Subcommittee – Focused on preventive measures directed toward youth between the ages of 13 to 25, residing in high-risk zip codes. Proposed recommendations:
- Expand/enhance access to effective youth mental and behavioral health programs.
- Create and implement a blueprint for local gun safety.
- Communicate key issues and programs to the community.
Intervention Subcommittee – Focused on promoting interagency cooperation and coordination among service providers in Orange County to assist with reducing gun violence and violent crimes pertaining to youth. Proposed recommendations:
Develop a detailed plan that addresses generations of neglect and poverty by formulating a 3-year vision with a systematic focus that reviews the structural changes that provide a healthy community where everyone thrives.
- Define, develop, and fund a credible messenger program.
- Coordinate with mental health providers to increase the number of providers in the areas identified and require the agencies to increase their hours of operation.
- Create a realistic channel for communication with the community and youth.
Enforcement Subcommittee – Focused on reviewing data and evidence-based enforcement strategies to reduce gun violence. Proposed recommendations:
Establish and maintain a Community Ambassador (CA) Program tasked with connecting community organizations, community leaders, and community members as well as attending community events on behalf of the County, providing details on key resources, activities, and events to assist in initiatives that directly or indirectly impact crime in the community.
- Use County media platforms to partner and assist law enforcement agencies in publicizing and increasing awareness of the agency’s use of evidence-based practices and non-traditional approaches of community policing and engagement initiatives to build public trust in communities historically distrustful of law enforcement and disproportionately impacted by gun/violent crimes.
- Assist Orange County Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Response Unit and Orlando Police Department’s Community Response Teams, which provide a joint response to calls that involve people in mental health crisis, to increase awareness of their programs and services by using available County media platforms while also providing statistical updates on program activities.
Prosecution Subcommittee – Focused on enhancing prosecution of perpetrators of gun violence and violent crimes. Proposed recommendations:
Implement Geographic Stewards Program in the community
- Implement Civil Citation Diversion programs
- Identify a Legislative Advocate who will make recommendations for legislation that will create protections for witnesses and neighboring persons to facilitate their willingness to share information.
- Request that the State Attorney’s Office issue a statement of affirmation and commitment to fully prosecuting gun violence cases.
- Increase street cameras universally and not just in target areas.
- Recommend questions for inclusion in future community crime surveys.