SARASOTA, Fla. -- Last week, Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, City Manager Tom Barwin and members of the Sarasota Police Department met with North Sarasota residents and business owners for nearly two hours.
The meeting served as an open discussion about Newtown’s late night violence, quality of life issues and proposed changes to retail business hours along the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way corridor.
Residents and business owners expressed a desire for strict enforcement of laws regarding violence, alcohol related crimes, noise violations and narcotics.
At the conclusion of the meeting, retail business owners voluntarily agreed to close their doors at 2:30am.
This agreement continues the Community Oriented Policing philosophy of listening to the public’s concerns and working in partnership to solve local problems.
Jetson Grimes is a lifelong resident as well as a business owner in the community of Newtown. He feels in order to perpetuate safeness for the residents of this community, Newtown has to make changes.
"And if we can't perpetuate that in our community, we don't have the ability to grow, to prosper, to succeed as a community as other communities in the city of Sarasota."
Another lifelong resident, Lance Shabazz feels this is yet another attempt at negative publicity for the community. He says they exaggerated statements regarding crime.
"None of these stores have ever been robbed——none of them have been broken into."
Police Chief Bernadette Dipino stated she wants to continue the conversation about public and officer safety. She also says that we will continue to work together to keep our community safe.
Grimes agrees. He says in order for Newtown to grow, residents from outside the community must feel comfortable in coming here.
"As long as the element of crime and the drugs is out there...you're fighting a losing battle. You will never be able to change the dynamics of the community."