Sheriff John Rutherford announces the launch of Operation Ceasefire to combat the recent uptick in violent crimes and incidents in Northwest Jacksonville.
18,000 walk and knocks are planned in Jacksonville, primarily in the area of Northwest Jacksonville where there's been an increase in aggravated battery call outs with a person shot and firearms discharged. Officers plan to ask business owners and residents to share information and tips they may have about crime in their neighborhood during the walk and talk discussions.
The operational area is just west of 95 in Northwest Jacksonville and includes Martin Luther King Jr., Pkwy, New Kings Road and extends all the way to Edgewood Avenue.
In 2014, the number of aggravated batteries with a person shot from January 1st to April 30th is 58. By contrast, in 2013, the number of aggravated batteries with a person shot in the same time period was 38. This represents a 53% increase.
In 2014, the number of aggravated assault/batteries with a firearm discharged from January 1st to April 30th is 180. By contrast, in 2013, the number of aggravated assault/batteries with a firearm discharged in the same time period was 126. This represents a 43% increase.
The number of homicides are also up, but only slightly. In 2014, the number of reported homicides that occured from January 1st to April 30th is 37. By contrast, the number of homicides reported in 2013 during the same time period was 33.
However, Rutherford tells WOKV the new crime fighting initiative comes with a price. Officers will be taken from your neighborhood to help fill in the gaps to help curb the violence.
"It's definitely robbing Peter to pay Paul."
The sheriff says they will pull police officers from various zones to pull off the Operation successfully. We asked what neighborhoods would lose officers as a result and how many officers would be specifically designated for Operation Ceasefire.
"I'm not going to give you the exact numbers on that but it's a significant move."
Rutherford says the force is already down by 147 officers after prior budget cuts but says he will ask Mayor Brown to hire 40 new officers and 40 community police officers. According to JSO, the total cost of 40 new recruits would be $5,106,294. The total cost of 40 community service officers would be $3,032,200. It would cost the city more than 8 million dollars to bring on all 80 officers.
Brown, who was in attendance at the announcement, says his focus will be to provide opportunities for youth to prevent crimes.
Sheriff Rutherford says Operation Ceasefire began May 1st. He says to date 4,000 of the 18,000 walk and knocks have already happened and brought forth good results.
"It's already proving successful with tips to JSO already being gathered by officers who are having citizen interactions during our walk and knocks."
Rutherford says 381 grams of cocaine and 156 grams of marijuana have already been taken off the street. They've also seized ten illegal firearms.
"You've got the amount of crime in your neighborhood that you're willing to tolerate," said Rutherford.