Twigg Street Crime Rate Soars Above Neighboring Streets, Local Pastor Tries to Make a Difference
BROOKSVILLE – According to the latest FBI Uniform Crime Report, In 2015 an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes occurred nationwide, an increase of 3.9% from the 2014 estimate. In Florida, murder increased by 15.2% and Rape Increased by 1.9%. But it should be noted that if not for the horrific tragedy at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, which claimed 49 lives, the actual murder rate increase would only have been 5.1%.
There are always “Hot Spots” that law enforcement agencies deal with day to day, where criminals seem to have a grip on the community and standard policing practices have little to no effect in quelling the corruption.
Throughout Hernando County, like most other counties, the core problem facing our communities is drugs abuse. Marijuana has all but become acceptable by most resident, even though it remains illegal on both a state and federal level, but Cocaine, MDMA (molly), Heroin, Methamphetamine, and of course prescription medications is grabbing hold of our youth and destroying families. Drug abuse, leads to drug trafficking, which leads to an increase of violent and property crimes. So, what is being done to solve the problem and who is responsible?
Twigg Street, located in south Brooksville, has become a household name with RNRF, as the number of crime stories we report continue to increase year to year. Twigg Street has, in essence, become the “New Jack City” of Brooksville, leaving residents living in fear of becoming the next victim of a violent crime.
On almost a nightly basis, drug dealers flood the intersection of Twigg Street and Martin Luther King Blvd to sell their “products” to walk-up and drive-by customers.
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and Brooksville Police Department (BPD) have divided the jurisdiction in an unusual hodgepodge of street coverage (See Map Below). We asked both agencies to provide crime statics from over the last year, so that we could provide a comparison of which jurisdictions have the biggest problems. According a one year report provide by the HCSO, there were approximately 238 calls to service by Sheriff’s Deputies to Twigg Street alone. The same annual crime report provided by BPD revealed only 67 calls to service for MLK, Armstrong Street, and Ellington Ave, an area located just a few blocks away from Twigg Street.We asked HCSO Spokesperson Denise Moloney what they plan to do about the overwhelming crime problem on Twigg Street and she said “All stakeholders are coming together to initiate a plan of action to address not only criminal activity but any other needs the community may have.”
I inquired about the Sheriff’s Office Community Center, which is situated a few hundred yards from Twigg Street, and asked how HCSO could better utilize the facility. Moloney replied, “The Community Center is used as a community center for and by the members of the community. Our COPPS and Patrol deputies have an office in there to use as needed as well.” She went on to say, “Several different organizations utilize the building on various days/times to serve the needs of the community. Career Source Pasco/Hernando uses it two days per week also to help the unemployed gain employment. For the most part, it is used almost daily.”
I asked about the use of social media to try and draw local youth to the facility. The Community Center has an active Facebook page but it doesn’t seem to have much traffic and only has 3 likes. I asked Moloney about the page and she said, “If there is a Facebook page, it was not created by the HCSO and it is obsolete.”
I spoke to Pastor Faith Hope Jackson of Proceeding Word Ministries who is working with members of his congregation to try and heal some of wounds within the community.
Jackson says he and about ten member of his church march down Twigg Street at least once a month and engage with residents to try and spread the word of God. Jackson says they’ve been well received by residents on Twigg Street and he plans to do more in the coming months to bring people together. Jackson says he’s out to law enforcement in hopes of working together in some capacity but says they haven’t responded. “I’m all about get something done. I would like to see not just the African American Pastors get involved but all our community leaders to join in, because it effects everyone in Brooksville. It begins with our leaders and we need to sit down at a table, pray, and set aside our differences to find a solution.”
Moloney says the Sheriff’s Office is planning operations but it the community needs to help by “If they see something, say something.” Deputies have a hard time making a difference because “Nobody wants to talk to deputies when a crime occurs – so there is not much they can do.”
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