Lakeland group fights crime one street at a time

A group in Lakeland is standing up to violence by putting on their walking shoes, and police say it's working.

"We see the war," said Debbie Crumbley, the leader of a group called Boots On the Ground. "We know the intensity of the war."

The group is focusing on Chestnut Woods, a particularly troubled street in Lakeland. They wear camouflage and combat boots while they march down the quarter-mile stretch once a week, for an hour a day.

"Being a native of Lakeland, born and raised, it was like, this can no longer happen," Crumbley said.

Last year on Chestnut Woods, there were 19 reported shootings. This year, there have been five, and no one was hit.

They say the street, and the people who live on it, have found God.

"God answers prayer," said Crumbley. "We are walking in obedience to what we know God has told us to do."

Lakeland police have also been at war with gangs. Over the last year they helped organize task forces and programs to give teens something else to do.

Asst. Chief Mike Link says the success on Chestnut Woods is an example of a community taking ownership.

"We have always said police can't do this alone," Link said. "We can't arrest our way out of situations so we have to work together as one collective team."

And the impact has not only helped to bring down the rate of shootings on Chestnut Woods, one woman was brought to tears while she watched the group in action

"I saw them and said I had to come out and pray," she said.

"There must be a consistency when you're doing this type of ministry," said Crumbley. "When people see that you continuously come, it's like well, these people must be real."

Members of Boots on the Ground say they're going to spend more time on Chestnut Woods, in hopes of seeing even more improvement.

Then they will turn their attention to other troubled streets in Lakeland.