Nearly 30 years ago, the Cocaine Cowboys with their “go fast” drug boats and MAC-10 submachine guns ruled Miami, says the Palm Beach Post. Today, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says the area is on the cusp of becoming another Miami. The gang names have changed to the Top 6, MS-13, San Castle Soldiers, and their guns are better at killing. On a smaller scale, the terror is the same: 101 murders last year, with gangs involved in 55 percent to 75 percent of all violent crimes in the county, according to a countywide violent crimes task force. “In some cases, crime is linked to simply being able to say, ‘I can get away with it,’ ” said Richard Mangan, a Florida Atlantic University criminologist and former federal drug agent. “We say we only solve between 12 to 13 percent of burglaries. Can you steal things from people’s homes and not get caught? Well, yeah.”
As for preventive measures, Florida Atlantic University sociologist Tom Wilson doesn’t believe the anti-bullying, anti-drug and anti-gang programs that pop up every year in the public schools work. After the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or DARE, was deemed ineffective, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department replaced DARE in 1998 with a program called Aggressors, Victims and Bystanders. Palm Beach County schools have had fourth-graders take the Youth Education Series, or YES, to warn children about drugs and peer pressure. There’s GREAT (Gang Resistance Education and Training). Training in “verbal judo” is offered to deal with difficult students. Peer mediators are used in elementary, middle, and high schools.