Sandra Fatmi

UFCF Sandra Fatmi and Dennis Hall In some neighborhoods, fear of talking to police

With the tragic events that have taken place on Monday January 9th, 2017. United Foundation of Central Florida /Pine Hills Community Council Presidents Sandra Fatmi and Treasure of United Foundation of Central Florida Dennis Hall, spoke to the Orlando Sentinel to discuss what is happening and how Community involvement could decrease the amount of Crimes in the Pine Hills and Orlando Area. As well as to what can be done to insure the Safety of the Community.
Please check it out! This is one of the first steps to turning the community around in a good way!!!


Somebody knew something about where Markeith Loyd was hiding.

But in the nearly four weeks since Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings first said he was looking for him after Loyd’s 24-year-old pregnant ex-girlfriend was shot dead, nobody spoke up.

”Today brought another surge in our bellies, you know why?” asked Sandra Fatmi, president of the Pine Hills Community Council, on Monday afternoon as a large-scale manhunt was underway for Loyd. “Look at what happened today as a result of people not talking.”

She was referring, of course, to the killing of Sgt. Debra Clayton, who police said was gunned down by Loyd on Monday morning at the Wal-Mart on Princeton Street near College Park. A second law enforcement officer, Deputy Norman Lewis, died in a motorcycle crash while responding to the shooting.

Neither the killing of Clayton or Sade Dixon, Loyd’s ex-girlfriend, took place within the technical boundaries of Pine Hills, an unincorporated neighborhood of more than 60,000 people generally west of Pine Hills Road and east of Apopka Vineland Road.But Pine Hills saw a surge in homicides last year and, as a result, is at the center of an effort by the sheriff’s office to take guns and drugs off the streets.

Shortly after Clayton was killed, police said Loyd shot at a another deputy, but missed, and carjacked another vehicle at a Pine Hills apartment complex near Pine Hills Road and North Lane.

He ditched the vehicle in the nearby Rosemont neighborhood.

Fatmi and Dennis Hall, another activist in the neighborhood, said a culture change must take place so that people in the neighborhoods aren’t afraid to talk to law enforcement.

”These bad guys, they eat, they sleep, they take showers,” said Hall, who was recently recognized for his work in the area by the Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement District. “Somebody knows who they are and where they are.”

Still, he said, he’s not unsympathetic to the hesitancy to come forward.

There is widespread fear of retribution.

Last month, when five people were shot outside of a Pine Hills convenience store, one witness told the Sentinel he didn’t want to be named out of concern he would “be the next one shot.”

Police often have trouble convincing witnesses to come forward.

Some in the community don’t trust the police or fear they won’t be kept anonymous by the Crimeline tips line (1-800-423-TIPS), though the service promises anonymity and callers are sometimes eligible for a reward.

During a press conference on Monday morning, Demings noted his frustration with what he suspects are some in the community who are staying quiet and aiding Loyd.

”We have been looking for him and have not been able to locate him,” the sheriff said. “That indicates to me that he’s been receiving help from someone.”

There are other intractable problems tied to street violence.

Fatmi, who also runs an after-school program at Evans High School, said gangs have too much power over too many teens.

”They’re recruiting our young people,” she said. “Offering them money because of their ages, because of their economic status. It’s a business.”

In addition to the increase in law enforcement patrols that came in response to the higher rate of homicides last year, she said there is a need for funding more early education and mentor programs.

And she would like to see more people involved in the community, which was formed as one of Orlando’s first suburbs back in the early days of Martin Marietta, now Lockheed Martin.

Typically, she said, about 80 to 100 people turn out at the Pine Hills Community Council, a nonprofit group that meets on the first Tuesday of each month at the neighborhood community center.

”I want it bigger,” Fatmi said. “I want to outgrow the center.”

One of the purposes of the council: to help people who live in the area build a relationship with law enforcement.

And persuade more people to stop staying quiet and start talking.