“Do you feel safer today than you did in 1991, you know almost no one will say they do,” says Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford.
Despite a drop in violent crime the perception hasn’t changed. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s midyear report showed murders were down from a year ago, robberies, assault, burglary, larceny, all down in Duval but most of you don’t feel any safer.
“Through (Sunday) night we’re now nine murders down from we were last year, year-to-date,” says Sheriff Rutherford. “So you’re literally twice as safe today as you were in 1991, but nobody feels it, nobody feels it because of the way we report crime.”
The sheriff says the negative perception of crime in Jacksonville is based in part by the media’s coverage of crime stories.
Sheriff Rutherford says the problem is too much localization, “We localize national murders, we make people think its Jacksonville when it’s not, we take stories that happen in Georgia and call them local . . . that’s not local.”
As for what’s been driving the drop in crime the sheriff says it’s been two things, an increase in officers, and an increase in community involvement.
Since 2003 the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office added 130 officers. They also brought in programs like Safe Streets where officers went door-to-door and knocked on some 77,000 doors. The sheriff says Crime Stoppers has also been a help.
Whatever the perception might be, crime in Jacksonville is down to its lowest level in more than 40 years.