BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Brevard County law enforcement officers say they are stepping up their efforts to protect the youth in their communities after noticing an increase in violence.
Sheriff Wayne Ivey joined State Attorney Phil Archer and police chiefs within Brevard County to announced their new collaborative approach Wednesday from the Sheriff’s Office West Precinct Training Room in Viera.
“Every one of us sees what’s happening,” Sheriff Ivey said. “Look at Palm Bay who’s represented here, drive-by shootings in the neighborhoods, drive-by shootings murders. You look at those. They’re drug-related they’re gang-related. (We’ve had) 94 shots fired in this year, just since January.”
The news conference comes on the heels of a violent weekend in Brevard County, the sheriff referencing gun violence at a graduation party where one person died and another was seriously hurt in Rockledge. A former Cocoa High School football player was also killed last week in Meritt Island.
“If you go to each and every chief,” Ivey said. “Each and every one of them are having similar problems. It takes a toll. It’s one of those where lives are taken from us way too soon.”
The sheriff outlined a plan to help curb crime and support the county’s young residents to keep them from turning to violence.
“We have to get more people involved,” Ivey explained. “No matter what happens when you see someone killed, families are impacted by the loss of the loved one. So enough is enough -- we’re coming together.”
Ivey said he along with other law enforcement officers and the county’s top attorney will use what is being described as a multi-prong approach starting with providing more resources to the communities.
“Each and every one of us has all programs that we do in our communities, but we’re going to take even a different approach and that approach is to make sure that those that are doing it right get every opportunity they want to succeed in a second,” he said.
He elaborated that law enforcement officers will work with faith-based leaders, coaches and recreational programs to become better acquainted with the kids utilizing them and to make sure those programs have assistance with outreach. This could include law enforcement officers connecting juveniles with such programs and making sure they are put on a positive path and adding more school resource deputies throughout the summer to build better relationships with young men and women.
The second portion of the enhanced law enforcement approach is to identify what the sheriff calls “bad players.”
“(Those) that are responsible for the gangs, to identify those that are getting the young youth involved,” he said. “We’re going to make sure we’re getting those individuals off the street.”
Law enforcement officers will keep an eye on individuals that are caught with drugs or guns as they try to veer them onto a better path, according to the sheriff. If caught with illegal items multiple times or caught committing a crime, the sheriff’s office will activate its Gang and Major Epidemic of Violence Enforcement response team. The team dubbed the GAME Over Task Force, has been utilized in the past to tackle a resurgence of local gang violence within the county.
“I can think of no better application GAME Over than what we have dealt with here in the past two months in Brevard County,” the sheriff said.
After identifying youth offenders, the task force will work diligently to identify the root of the violence, making arrests as they work to get guns and drugs off the streets while keeping the community safe.
- Community outreach
- Identify youth offenders
- Activate GAME Over Task Force
Law enforcement officers say the final step is tough prosecution.
State Attorney Phil Archer said he will assign the office’s Operation Ceasefire Team to assist with law enforcement efforts.
“One of our most experienced attorneys will do all the cases that are identified through this task force to make sure that we get these cases filed,” he said.
The state attorney explained the task force will handle all cases and trials related to the Ceasefire Team and GAME Over task force.
“That’s what’s going to bring the heat,” he said. “There are really good people in our community that are suffering from the senseless violence and if you saw the homicides the last couple of weeks -- young people. Together we hopefully can attack this issue.”
Archer added his office will consider each case for possible state and federal prosecution.
“We’re curving and stopping the violence from youthful offenders and stopping the loss of life of our youth in our town,” Ivey said. “This is the right approach and it’s a team effort.”