In response to a number of homicides just in the last few weeks in the Pine Hills area, Sheriff Jerry Demings and a number of other officials, both city and county, convened Friday to announce the launch of Operation RISE to combat crime more aggressively than before.
RISE, which stands for Restoring Inclusiveness, Safety and Empowerment in Pine Hills, will consist of a greater attempt by law enforcement to reach out and communicate to citizens with the hope that citizens will give them better tips on where to arrest those responsible for the crimes.
To do that, they’ll be using the large mobile station in the parking lot at the intersection of Silver Star and Pine Hills Road. Residents will be able to speak to deputies from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. there from Monday through Friday, Demings said.
Demings called the Pine Hills community one that was rich in history and that was close-knit, where residents cared deeply about one another.
However, he did not shy away when rebuking the criticism that it was somehow law enforcement’s fault that homicides and other violent crimes were up.
“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” he said. “Law enforcement is not out there shooting and killing people. That is happening here where you live. Homicide is a byproduct of a lot of things, from cradle on up. It’s a social phenomenon, one we all share in responsibility.”
Other speakers, like newly elected State Attorney Aramis Ayala and local leaders like Bishop Kelvin Cobaris also condemned crime and vowed to hold leaders accountable in stopping it once and for all.
Orange County District 6 Commissioner Victoria Siplin also announced a new program called ‘Lion’s Den,’ which she said would help youths in the area get jobs with participating businesses.
She implored residents who knew teenagers and young people without jobs to call her office at 407-836-5860 to inquire about the program.