PINELLAS PARK — Residents of the Davis Fields neighborhood came to the City Council on Thursday to plead for help for their beleaguered neighborhood.
Pinellas Park police, they say, know about the neighborhood's problems with drug dealers who have turned the area into a battleground. They want the police to take immediate action before a tragedy strikes.
Pinellas Park police Chief Dorene Thomas said she knows about the neighborhood's woes and plans to assign an officer to be a liaison with residents.
The neighborhood has been under siege for six to eight months, resident Ed Kosinski said. The latest incident was last Tuesday, when the violence began around 9 a.m. and culminated a couple of hours later with a "drive-by shooting."
Police responded Tuesday morning to a noise complaint and found at least four bullet holes at a home on 62nd Street N. Detectives are investigating whether the house was targeted or if the incident was a random shooting.
Kosinski's graphic description of life in a neighborhood surrounding one of Pinellas Park's busiest playgrounds came during Thursday's council meeting. Kosinski, a former City Council candidate, said police know about the problems, but seem to have done nothing to solve them other than telling residents to "be quiet, be quiet, it's under investigation."
But, "if it was under investigation, they should have known the retaliation drive-by shooting was taking place. They should have known that the house that got shot up was full of little baby children. They should have known at nine o'clock in the morning when this confrontation started in front of my house that it was escalating ... until about 11 o'clock when the shootings all started," Kosinski said.
He added, "Fortunately no babies were hurt. This is straight across from where all the little kids play T-ball. Had this shooting taken place at night with another 30 to 40 children there, God knows what would have happened."
Kosinski pleaded with City Manager Mike Gustafson, the council and Chief Thomas to rescue the neighborhood.
"I am asking our city manager to take his big, ugly stick (and) go have a talk with our chief of police (and) find out who dropped the ball on this," Kosinski said. "I certainly hope that when the city manager has his long, hard talk with our chief of police, that she'll take her big, ugly stick and go down to her undercover department and find out who dropped the ball and why this is continuing to go on for eight months in our neighborhood."
Kosinski, who was with several of his neighbors, asked the council to provide whatever Thomas and her officers need to clean up the area. He also asked them to contact the judges who release offenders after they are arrested and urge them to make sure the criminals stay in jail.
Council members made no comment. When Kosinski was finished, they moved on to the next speaker.
After the meeting, Thomas said she was going to assign an officer to look into the issues Kosinski had raised. Thomas said she and her officers will work with the neighborhood to make sure residents will be safe. It is not unusual, she said, to send in a kind of task force to help neighborhoods that are in trouble. Thomas conceded that the problems in the Davis Fields neighborhood had become even more urgent.
"This drive-by shooting kind of escalated it," Thomas said.
Kosinski drew a vivid picture of life in the area surrounding Davis Fields, where hundreds of children play T-ball, baseball and football. Davis Field Park and Davis Fields are located at 6050 Railroad Ave. The area is generally bounded by the 7600 block of 61st and 62nd streets N.
"Our neighbors are afraid," Kosinski said. "Several are arming themselves. They're walking with guns at night now. They're carrying baseball bats. We've had three houses — the doors smashed in in the middle of the daytime; one at night. We've had people attacked over there by the ballfields.
"People are afraid and one of two things is going to happen. They're going to be so afraid they're going to lock themselves up in houses and these drug dealers, these gang wannabes are going to take over the neighborhood. ... It's getting out of control. ... I don't want to see my neighbors put in this situation."