Monday, January 18, 2021
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The Villages

Wildwood residents call for stepped-up enforcement by police

Gwen Brown, who runs a day care center on the west side of Wildwood, is frustrated.

Every day, she faces a row of people behind a fence in front of the center drinking beer, smoking cigarettes or marijuana and swearing. Later, she picks up the beer cans.

The problem, she told city commissioners Monday, means she can’t use a playground in front of the center and had to buy property behind it for a second playground.

“What can we do because it’s not fair?” she asked. “These children should not have to be dealing with this.”

Wildwood Police Chief Randy Parmer

Brown was among three west side residents who asked commissioners and Police Chief Randy Parmer to help solve these kinds of problems in their neighborhood.

Parmer said a 16-year-old armed robbery suspect was shot Sunday night in west Wildwood when he and two companions tried to rob a couple at gunpoint. The suspect’s injuries were not life threatening, he said.

Brown said she reported her problem to police officers a month ago, but Parmer said it was the first time he had heard of it.

Police scuttled a huge block party planned last weekend for the west side and it was moved elsewhere, Parmer said. Officers have been working to prevent or break up large block parties for months. They also have worked to prevent racing on Jackson Street.

Gene Baker said he’s had problems at his west side church. He said a large dumpster was stolen from church property and used to build a barricade to block police cars. Baker said he managed to retrieve the dumpster. He put up no trespassing signs, but they were torn down.

“Somehow we have to get more aggressive to kick some of this problem,” he said.

Brenda Rivers-Matthews said her issue is littering in her yard after she cleans it up every morning.

“To me, there needs to be more officers in the area to try to cut down on the use of drugs, alcohol and cursing,” she said.

Mayor Ed Wolf said police officers were told not to be aggressive, but he asked City Administrator Jason McHugh, Parmer and the city attorney to work on finding tougher enforcement measures.

“We want to make sure we do things legally because we don’t want to violate anybody’s rights,” he said.

Parmer said it was time for police to crack down.

“We’ve got to be more aggressive,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to take the gloves off. You’ve got to keep your foot on the gas.”

Commissioner Pamala Harrison-Bivins, who also is mayor pro tem and lives on the west side, assured the residents they would get solutions to their problems.

“Things will be different now that (Parmer) knows what’s going on,” she said. “I hope you can get more people on board from the community.”

Last month, a felon with a firearm was arrested near a day care center in Wildwood.

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