WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Inside the new Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, people throughout West Palm Beach filled the pews, joining in efforts to unite West Palm Beach police and the community they serve.
“My goal is to make this the safest city in America,” police Chief Frank Adderly said. “Our hand is extended, and we want to make a positive change here in West Palm Beach.”
Adderly answered nearly two hours of questions by community members and local leaders on topics such as gun violence in West Palm Beach.
“I think the meeting today went OK,” Karen Wilson, who attended the meeting, said. “I have two grandchildren and it’s very important to me that they’re safe.
“No shootings. They can go to the playgrounds and don’t have to worry about hearing shootings, have to duck and dodge. It’s important.
Another point of discussion: the trust and relationship with law enforcement.
“I think that police themselves need to go out and build a relationship with the community and the young people. Until that happens, you’re gonna get the same thing that you’ve been getting,” Wilson said.
The police chief declared that he’s willing to go out in the community to meet and listen to concerns.
“We got a lot of work that needs to happen in house, but the police represent an institution that we’ve never been able to trust so it’s gonna take a lot of healing,” said Ricky Aiken, who represented Inner City Innovators, a mentor group for youth.
“We’re gonna pull our young guys together, especially our leaders and we’re gonna hit our community during our engagement walks and gather questions and concerns and we look forward to confronting the chief and having dialog on how we can move the ball forward,” Aiken said.
Adderly also said he needs the community to make changes as well, saying there are more than 140 unsolved homicides in West Palm Beach and people often don’t provide information.
“People saying that they fear retaliation. I think is a real, perception,” Adderly said. “I think it’s a true reality to them when it comes to that and anything that we can do to to enhance that to put them in a comfort zone, that can give us the information that can help us solve crime I think is a good thing.”
Adderly also mentioned the department plans to launch a program called Safe Watch, which allows people to virtually send in videos or pictures of a crime that goes straight to their real time crime center.
“We have analysts and detectives that are monitoring these calls and are able to forward the information to the officers responding,” Adderly said. “Anything that can help us gather more information, especially when it’s real-time information can definitely be a big plus for us.”