West Palm Beach finished 2023 with 14 homicides, which is the second-lowest total in the past 20 years.
However, the city started 2024 with two homicides on Tuesday.
A day after the fatal shootings, police now believe the cases are drug-related.
West Palm Beach Police Chief Frank Adderley said the violence that comes with open drug sales has been an ongoing challenge for the city.
He said his department’s big challenge is getting people who see crime to report it.
Adderley said the problem areas stretch from the 300 block on Tamarind Avenue up to about 25th Street and over to the west of Broadway from 25th Street into Riviera Beach.
Resident Isaac Young said West Palm Beach is rough.
“It’s crazy and out of hand,” Young said. “I got kids and stuff, and I don’t even feel comfortable with my kids being out because there’s so much going on.”
Adderley said it’s a younger and small crowd of people who are wreaking havoc through the streets.
“We’re going to need this massive group of people that are going to partner with us and are going to say, ‘enough is enough,’ Adderley said. “We’re going to make our neighborhood safe.”
The police chief said the department is looking to fill around 20 officer positions by March. A few years ago, the department was one of the lowest-paying agencies in the county, but now West Palm Beach is in the top three.