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New St. Petersburg crime task force vows not to fade away

ST. PETERSBURG — The cycle has played out countless times.

Something tragic happens, and the community gets riled up. There are marches, rallies and outrage. Then, as time goes by, the energy fizzles.

But after a crime that rocked the city — the April 5 murder of 8-year-old Paris Whitehead-Hamilton — a new crime prevention task force has emerged.

Its message: Not this time.

"We have to make sure that every week is dedicated to not forgetting Paris Hamilton," Sevell Brown, the Florida chapter president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said at a group meeting Thursday.

"You have to keep the momentum going. You can't do something then stop and start two months later. You'll lose the hope that people have."

Brown organized the group, called D.O.T.S. (Diverse Organization Targeting Students). The coalition of 40 community leaders met for the first time Thursday at the Enoch Davis Center.

The task force is working against an urgent backdrop: School gets out in about three weeks, and task force members said they must address a few core issues: summer jobs, youth programs and a "no snitch" culture.

The group plans to assess what summer opportunities will be available for youth and explore marketing ideas to get their "no snitching" message out.

New St. Petersburg crime task force vows not to fade away 05/07/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 7, 2009 11:56pm]
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