Initiative underway to clean up crime in Clermont

- The City of Clermont says a police-led project transformed their highest crime area into crime-free zone. 

“I can go to sleep now. I don’t have to worry about anything,” said longtime resident Ruby McCoy. 

But she explains that not too long ago, that wasn’t the case in the Oakhurst community. 

“Guns shooting. Loud music. It just was terrible,” McCoy said. 

“It was a lot of crime. A lot of drugs and fighting and carrying on every night,” said resident Armetta Brown. 

Clermont Police say the stretch of duplexes near Highland and Disston Avenues was their highest crime area. But today, things have completely changed. 

“We haven’t had in the past 10 months a single hot call – over 90 percent decrease in crime,” said Officer David Colon, who led the project. 

To recognize that, an award ceremony was held at city hall Tuesday night. Clermont won the Florida League’s City Spirit Award. 

“We would knock on their doors early morning and invite them for breakfast. That was one thing that would really shock them,” Colon explained about the effort. 

He says some of the word was about building trust. And some of it was about physical change. 

“Then we pressure washed, we did a whole community clean up, we painted all 14 homes,” Colon said. 

He says some of the land lords also got more strict and evicted people who were breaking the law. Local businesses stepped up to help people get jobs.  The end result – a place people can call home and feel safe again. 

“It quieted down to what it was. We still have some hills to climb but it’s better,” Brown said. 

City officials say the initiative began in January of 2017. 

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