Finding A Way Forward Together: Hallandale Beach Is Working On Multiple Fronts To Better The Community
By Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper
January 25, 2024
Many of us watch our local news and shudder to think about the Gun Violence in our communities and the tragic loss of life. Years ago, these reports came typically out of big cities, but now small and large cities alike have had shootings. We all collectively are working to stem the rise in Violent Crimes. Hallandale Beach has had its share of senseless shootings. The majority have a nexus to gangs that are in the South Florida area.
After the COVID-19 Pandemic, we began to see a resurgence of gang conflicts in our City. These are gangs with young adults ages 14 to their late twenties Pompano, Dania Beach, Hollywood, West Park, Pembroke Park and Hallandale Beach all have had rivalries typically stem from High School. One may think of West Side Story but with the prevalence of guns in these fights rather than fist or knives are resulting in shootings.
Not all of these crimes make the news. The last shooting that took place was not. A 16-year-old was targeted and shot while on his bike. Four other teens in a car shot at him. He jumped off his bike and they pursued him. He was struck on his foot. Due to our Commissions’ commitment to Public Safety and Investments in Technology that picks up shots fired; Police were on site within minutes. They are conducting a full investigation.
This fall we had another tragic shooting and that was the final straw for me. A student at Hallandale High, Marcus Impert was coming home from his first high school football game. His mother debated allowing him to attend. He was on his way home as a passenger when he was shot and killed. The driver who was the intended target was uninjured. Once again, there were no witnesses to come forward. This could be due to fear or simply not wanting a friend, brother, cousin to get in trouble. There are ways through Crime Stoppers which are anonymous to report information. We also have our own City Tip Line at: (954) 457-1404.
The Chief and our Department took to the street and went door to door. Their goal was twofold. One to reassure our residents they are working hard and care. The other to give out information on Marcus Impert and Crime Stoppers. The neighborhood was receptive. This case and others are active cases. Our department continues to work on them, and they remain open.
Our Police can only do so much. They need evidence to solve crimes. Witnesses are an important part of solving crimes but with or without them it takes a long time to work through the criminal justice system. I would like to say it is not Law and Order, solved in one hour. We all need to work together and try to prevent crime. This takes parents, neighbors, schools, churches and Police working side by side.
I was both heartbroken and frustrated. I decided that we need to do more to unite. These young adults go to our schools. There needs to be more understanding and accountability from all parties. I asked to hold a meeting with the Principals, Chiefs of Police and Mayors from our zone. We held our first Task Force Meetings. Sadly, due to the death of Principal Campbell from Gulfstream K-8 we have not met. We will meet as soon as the new principal is appointed. This does not mean we have been sitting back.
Principal Campbell talked very wisely at the first meeting. He talked about going back to the old school ways. Children were still not healed from the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The families still were not all back to level footing. His suggestion was to come together as a community with our old Crime Watch Block Parties. I took his message to heart. My goal was simply to get resources and information out to our community as a whole. Not just kids, but for all ages.
I was blessed around the same time to be approached by two wonderful individuals that had lost their sons. “Big Ike” of Project Love and Andrea McDonald of “Advise Athletes.” Andrea wanted to do a field day in honor of her Son Alex “Budda” Collins the NFL Football Player. Budda started football in our PAL Program. Alex lost his life when he was struck by a car on his motorcycle.
Big Ike, who lost his son 10 years ago, has always done outreach. His first play was about AIDS and changing fear to love. His new project is a play with the goal of uniting the community and Changing fear of Police to collaborating with Pastors, Police and the community.
We have partnered with our Police Activities League to create a “Community Field Fun Day and Resource Fair.” Our presenting Sponsor is Memorial Hospitals “One City At A Time” Initiative. The event is FREE of charge. There will be athletic competitions Football, Basketball, Track, Tennis and Pickleball Lessons, a Memorial Service for all that have lost loved ones from Violence and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Guest speakers during the day. There will be a Tailgate Hot Dog Lunch and other entertainment.
In addition, there will be a Health and Community Partner Resources Fair that includes a FREE Tree Giveaway, Our Human Services Department will be on hand to share information on our After School Tutorial Programs and Senior Programs, The Supervisor Of Elections will be on hand to help with your Registrations, the Property Appraiser will be on hand to help with Homestead Information and the Tax Deferment Program, Whether you are a child or senior there will be something for everyone and much more. To everyone that visits the Resource Fair and fills their passport, they can enter to win a TV Show Ticket and Other Prizes.
As always please feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns, and ideas to make our City a better place! I am available at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or: email@example.com. At my office: (954) 457-1318. Or on my Cell/Text at: (954) 632-5700. You can always visit my Facebook and follow me at Mayor Joy Cooper.