After a week of parking lot robberies involving firearms, MetroWest residents are fighting back. Last night, Central Park home owners called an emergency clubhouse meeting to rally against the latest crime wave.
Despite only 48 hours notice, manager Ken Swindle succeeded in rounding up not only members of his own community, but an array of interested outsiders, including a local robbery squad detective, Neighborhood Watch organizers, a representative from the MetroWest Master Association, and Board members from several neighboring communities.
This was the first time that such a meeting has ever been called but Swindle for one had seen enough. I’m just tired of our residents not being able to feel safe in their own homes he said. If we get our heads together and pool resources, we might be able to find a way to reduce our risk.
As the meeting progressed and residents from various communities spoke up, it soon became apparent that despite many of the communities being gated all of them were suffering from an lack of effective security. Blaming many of the recent robberies on a local gang of youths calling themselves the We Rob Everyone Gang detective Joe Gilbert explained that the City of Orlando Police Department has become completely overwhelmed by Orlando’s surging crime wave. The City’s crime rate has gone through the roof, he said. “And we have a total of just six officers to investigate all of the robbery reports.”
Residents were shocked at the lack of police resources and less than complimentary about the length of time officers have been taking to respond to calls. It took the cops over an hour to get here the other night, complained one frustrated resident. Others suggested that if the police were unable to help them, then perhaps the master association for MetroWest should invest some of the millions of dollars it collects annually to develop its own private security firm rather than planting palm trees up and down Hiawassee. It was also suggested that the master association become a hub for the collection and dispersal of future crime data. Spokesperson for the Association, Betty Reed, agreed that MetroWest should host regular meetings to share new ideas and strategies for making MetroWest a safer environment. “We need everyone to take part,” She said.
Other ideas tabled during the 90 minute meeting included the setting up an early warning system among the various associations to try and prevent the tendency for local gangs to terrorize more than one community as they rampage through the neighborhood.
In a strange twist of irony, even as the meeting was taking place, a neighboring Azur resident (not a hundred yards away) was being relieved of his vehicle in the third attack on that community in one week.