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Pine Hills residents notice improvement thanks to crime-fighting initiative

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jenny Maguire said she worked at the Super Coin Laundromat along Silver Star Road in fear for years.

"This area was really bad. I mean, there was a lot of fighting going around," Maguire said. 

The laundromat is open 24 hours a day. 

Because of the crime, Maguire said she was losing a lot of business at night. 

But since the Orlando police and Orange County Sheriff's Office mobile substation opened in a shopping center parking lot along Silver Star road last month Maguire said she has noticed a significant difference.

"We haven't had any break-ins in the cars anymore. If you checked the records, there were a lot of break-ins in the cars," Maguire said. "That has stopped and I don't see anyone no more. Nobody around, hanging around or doing, you know, bad stuff."

Other residents, including Helane Jackson, are noticing the improvement too.

"The police presence lately has been a really great improvement so we're enjoying that," Jackson said.

The substation is part of the Restoring Inclusiveness, Safety and Empowerment or RISE, initiative to combat crime in the Pine Hills area.

The program was implemented in November after a week of deadly shootings.

"We have seen some significant decreases in crimes in certain areas. We have recovered a good amount of guns off the street, a good amount of drugs off the street, which means we're putting these types of individuals behind bars," Cpt. Carlos Torres with the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

Orlando police made 62 felony arrests, seized 21 guns and confiscated five stolen guns in the first three weeks that the substation was open.

Orange County deputies helped police with 49 arrests and confiscated multiple grams of drugs. 

Torres said the substation isn't just a place for residents to share their concerns with law enforcement. 

Given the recent death of Deputy 1st Class Norman Lewis and Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, he said the community is showing they're ready to come together and take a stand against crime.

"When the incident happened, you know, the community really and truly came out to help us and, you know, they were trying to feed us and just try to make our day better," Torres said. "It's very comforting that sometimes, you know, we could be standing here and people will come and thank us for the work that we do. It's certainly a very dangerous job that we do out here. It's a very serious job that we do out here."​