Taking guns out of the hands of Orlando’s criminals is police Chief Val Demings’ top goal for 2009, reports the city’s Sentinel. She vowed to work closely with the public, prosecutors and legislators for stricter gun control. “It’s not about keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens who have every right to possess them,” she said. “Our initiative will focus on the people who are not supposed to have them.” Demings outlined her agenda on her first anniversary as Orlando’s first female police chief, an occasion she used to recount her officers’ accomplishments and the obstacles they still face.
Leading the challenges is a murder rate that rose 8 percent in 2008, while robberies, assaults and rapes declined. As of Wednesday, 42 people had been murdered in Orlando, including 10 victims of domestic violence. The slayings are part a countywide surge that stands at 119 killings and threatens to break the murder record of 121 set in 2006. So far this year, 69 percent of the city’s murders were committed with firearms. Most of those likely were obtained illegally, the chief said. Getting such guns off the streets will make the city safer, Demings said.