CLEARWATER — City officials were dismayed in October 2007 when a DVD hit the streets that depicted Clearwater as a place where women viciously attacked one another in the middle of streets.
A community where open-air drug deals were the norm and gun-toting men ruled the neighborhood.
The DVD, called Da Hood Gone Wild, was produced by SemiAkeem Cortez Hearns and Allan Burney, both of the North Greenwood community. Dubbed a documentary by its producers, the DVD sparked a year of monthly meetings led by the mayor.
"I'm pleased with the partnerships we have made and I'm hopeful," Mayor Frank Hibbard said. "We've gotten a good core group of people consistently coming and discussing the problems. More churches are joining. At least we are communicating about what's working and what's going on."
The meetings will continue in 2009.
At each meeting held at City Hall, there were local church pastors, community leaders, the Police Department and City Manger Bill Horne.
A major initiative born out of the meetings was a faith-based crime stoppers program advocated by police Chief Sid Klein. The idea was to have churches in the North Greenwood community be responsible for areas around their property.
Klein said the plan has not turned out as he proposed, but he's patient.
"I know these things take time," he said. "It's a very different role for the clergy and I know it's going to take some time. The most important thing is to achieve some results, even if the concept has changed."
Now, Klein sends a list of the juveniles arrested to a community clergyman, who contacts a church in the child's area. Klein said he has sent the names of 19 juveniles involved in 23 arrests.
The group also is creating a community resource guide and aiding in a youth summit.
Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 445-4174 or email@example.com,