Keeping kids off the streets in St. Pete

Posted at 5:24 PM, Dec 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-28 17:24:39-05
Over the weekend, yet another fatal shooting on the streets of South St. Petersburg.
Again, the victim was just 17-years-old. That makes seven young men killed in the same area of town over the past few weeks.
As investigators look for suspects in the latest crime, folks in that community are looking into what can stop the bloodshed.
Pastor Clarence Williams of Mt. Zion Church is going right to the streets-- talking with people who are impacted by this violence everyday.
ABC Action News spent the day with Rev. Williams as he walked the streets, speaking with residents and addressing some of their concerns. It's something he does often. 
Pastor Williams believes that's the only way to address this issue. To see it and hit it head on.
Residents that spoke with ABC Action News said that the entire community has to get involved. Be it through educational programs, mentoring or simply calling the police if they have information on a crime. Those we spoke with say they live in fear every day, wondering if one of their loved ones could be next.
"It is a major concern because you don't know when it's going to happen. You don't know who it's going to happen to or anything like that. You just pray it's nobody you know," said resident Nikia Hayes.
"These kids are not afraid to die. They're afraid to live. That's dangerous," Rev. Williams told ABC Action News.
A city spokesman, Benjamin Kirby emailed ABC Action News the following statistics indicating crime is down. He also outlined what the city is doing to address the issue of youth violence.
  • Homicides are down this year from last year.
  • Crime tips to police have tripled. 
  • Robbery is down 12% from last year.
  • Burglary is down 15% from last year.
More holistically, we've invested in youth employment at record levels. 
We are working with St. Pete College and the Education Foundation to offer scholarships to preschool teachers to help standardize and improve school readiness. 
  • Working the 2020 program, our wrap-around services lifted more than 35 families out of poverty this year along. 
  • This year, we helped 478 youth find summer jobs, a record number. 
  • 125 city employees and community volunteers received mentor training.
  • City employees contributed a record $59,000 to the Take Stock in Children program. 
  • In our neighborhoods, 79 structures have been rehabilitated with a permit value of $2.7 million.
  • We have reduced boarded properties by 46% city-wide, and reduced them from 546 to 298 in the city's CRA area (south St. Pete).
  • Our N-Team has benefited more than 330 properties, 234 of which are in the CRA.

    Per Ben Kirby, Communications Director