Lakeland Police patrols increase during Spring Break - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Lakeland Police patrols increase during Spring Break

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Bullet holes in side of house on Jewel St in Lakeland. Bullet holes in side of house on Jewel St in Lakeland.
Lakeland Police patrol neighborhood during Spring Break week. Lakeland Police patrol neighborhood during Spring Break week.
Bullet holes in side of house on Jewel St in Lakeland. Bullet holes in side of house on Jewel St in Lakeland.
LPD Captain Rick Taylor talks about Spring Break Cime. LPD Captain Rick Taylor talks about Spring Break Cime.
Mary Cason of Lakeland says life at her Jewel Street home is often frightening and dangerous. Mary Cason of Lakeland says life at her Jewel Street home is often frightening and dangerous.
LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) -

Imagine living with so much fear of gun violence that you feel like you can't even sit on your front porch or grill out in your own yard.

That's how a Lakeland woman feels in her neighborhood that's been the scene for recent shootings.

Mary Cason says she's gotten to the point where she tries to stay away from the house because there's so much violence outside her door.

She was relieved to hear Lakeland police are putting an extra focus on tracking down crime in her northwest neighborhood.

“Every night we have to pray,” Cason said. “We pray that God shields us and shields my house.”

Just steps away from where Mary Cason and her six children live are signs of the gun violence.  Bullet holes are visible in the stucco.

“If I hear an ambulance I'm hysterical thinking, ‘I hope it's not my baby,’” she said.

She's called Jewel Street in Lakeland home for 19 years but lately, it's not somewhere she feels safe.

“If they aren’t fighting, they are shooting,” Cason said of the neighborhood.

“We’re going to do what we can to put this to an end,” Lakeland Police Captain Rick Taylor said about the situation.

He says they're using this week, when students are out on Spring Break, as a time to put an extra focus on what's happening around the area that’s gotten such a bad reputation when it comes to gun violence.

Typically when teens are out of school, juvenile crime rises, at least by ten percent.

“They're looking for things to get into, basically,” Taylor said of why the time away from school leads to the rise.

While historically it translated into more shoplifting and fighting, recent activity shows it could become more violent crime.

“We had a shooting out here a few weeks ago where we had empty shell casings just scattered around out here everywhere left behind from other shootings that weren’t even reported to us, which, to me, is a major issue,” Taylor said.

On Friday LPD put 40 officers in this area alone.  They say this is a move that immediately came with results.

“We ended up making about 24 arrests,” Taylor said. “We ended up contacting about 36 gang members or associates.”

It’s one step closer to giving Mary Cason peace of mind about the place she calls home.

“We used to barbeque at night but you can't even do that anymore because you're scared someone is going to run through your yard with a gun,” Cason said.

Lakeland Police say a big part in cleaning up the area comes down to the community cooperating with them. They need neighbors to call with what they hear is going on so they know to respond.

Copyright 2014 WFLA.  All rights reserved.

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