Bradenton City Council discusses ways to fight gun violence

jajones1@bradenton.comMarch 6, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Concerned by the unsolved shooting death of 15-year-old Dakota Smith, Bradenton City Council members asked Wednesday what they could do to help tamp down the violence.

The Horizons Academy freshman was shot to death about 8:30 p.m. Feb. 20 in the 2500 block of 13th Avenue East, near Norma Lloyd Park. His body was found about three blocks from his home.

"The street is dark. The community believes this happened and nothing is being done," Councilman Gene Brown said during a workshop meeting. "If we can add some street lights, that would help, and if we don't, shame on us."

Councilman Harold Byrd Jr. said he lives about 14 blocks from the scene of the crime, and violence is increasing there.

"I have talked to some of the elderly in the area and they are very concerned about gun violence," Byrd said.

Byrd suggested one way to help reduce the violence is by installing Shot Spotter Flex technology in high-violence areas. The technology would instantly report to law enforcement any locations where shots have

been fired.

"It's very expensive," Byrd said, but costs could be shared through a partnership with area businesses, the Bradenton Housing Authority and the Central Community Redevelopment Agency.

Bradenton Police Chief Michael Radzilowski has actively campaigned to bring Shot Spotter to the Bradenton area.

In a Jan. 10 letter to the Bradenton Housing Authority, Radzilowski said 80 percent of all gunfire-related incidents and homicides occur in a 4-square mile area in the eastern part of the city.

"The first-year cost of implementing 4 square miles of the Shot Spotter Flex solution is $270,000, and then $180,000 per year in subsequent years," Radzilowski wrote.

Contacted at the police department after the workshop, Radzilowski said he has not received a response to any of his letters requesting assistance and is preparing letters to other business partners.

"The Manatee Homicide Unit continues to work the Dakota Smith homicide and has some very good leads," Radzilowski said.

James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter: @jajones1.

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