TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Police Chief and the Hillsborough State Attorney are sounding the alarm about teen violence.
More people are also voicing concerns, including a bondsman, who is seeing a spike in the number of juveniles she has to post bonds for.
Nishea Dukes, a bondsman, said crimes among juveniles are becoming more violent and egregious, specifically over the last three months.
She’s the owner of Duke Bail Bonds, which is an around-the-clock job that requires frequent trips to the Orient Road Jail in Hillsborough County.
However, when business is busy, it also means there’s more crime in the community.
“A lot of them have access to firearms,” Dukes said about the juvenile cases she posts bonds for. “They’re getting charged as adults, meaning they are not going to the juvenile detention center, they’re going to jail. I bonded out someone as young as 15 years old who had access to a firearm.”
This month the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough State Attorney are addressing a recent string of teen violence.
Within ten days this month, three juveniles were charged in a series of violent shootings across the Tampa Bay area.
“Juveniles are having guns at younger and younger ages,” said Susan Lopez, Hillsborough State Attorney.
“Where are we going wrong?” asked Dukes. “What additional resources can we put into the community and this generation to help them?”
It’s a question that’s prompting Latoya Tokley-Carter to find a solution.
“To know that our children are exemplifying that negligence breaks my heart,” said Tokley-Carter, founder of MpowerU-Tech. “We must find and figure out who our village is to pick up the slack.”
The MpowerU-Tech program equips young adults ages 17 to 26 with essential life skills and offers them the opportunity to receive a micro-certification in a number of technology options.
“A lot of young people don’t know what they want to with their lives, so they find themselves in adverse situations,” said Tokley-Carter. “Each person should have the opportunity to correct and adjust anything they’re doing in life that may have taken them off the beaten path, and that includes our young people.”
The program also teaches conflict resolution techniques to steer young adults from the streets to success.
“The effects of the program rebuild these adults from the inside out.”