HOLLYWOOD (CBS4) – Dozens of Hollywood residents, business owners and police officers took the first step in an effort to create change along Federal Highway Friday night.

They took their first “Flashlight Walk” to shine a light on problems that they say are plaguing this area in the city from Pembroke Road to Sheridan Street.

Hollywood Interim Police Chief Vincent Affanato said the police are working to crack down on problems.

“We do have issues with strong arm robberies,” Affanato told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “We do have issues with prostitution. We do have issues with street level narcotics.”

Specifically, residents and city leaders want businesses to fix up code violations. They want to make a dent in the crime rate — as residents say they’ve seen a significant spike in home break-ins. And they want to encourage new businesses to open up shop in this section of the city.

“It’s probably the worst face you can put on your city or your neighborhood to have people come down Federal Highway and see it looking like this,” explained Terry Cantrell, President of the Hollywood Lakes Civic Association.

Resident Rita Gambardella says she and others are fed up and feel the need to protect their homes and way of life.

“We definitely want to maintain our property values,” she said. “We’re really, really concerned with that. We want to see some newer anchor stores coming in.”

Residents say it’s taken years for Federal Highway to fall into disrepair and they know it will take years to improve the situation. But they say shining a light on the problem is the first step towards change.

“What we’re doing is taking back our streets and showing these people and this element that we’re not going to take it anymore,” she said.

Hollywood Police say they are firmly behind this effort. The residents say they plan to have a similar walk on the north side of Federal Highway later in March and hope to hold these walks several times a year.


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