Jacksonville, FL - “I think there’s a gun crime issue in Jacksonville that we have to get ahead of.”
The clear message from Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Director Mike Williams today while revealing that 33 people have been shot in 29 incidents this past month, seven fatally.
While JSO could not definitively say why we’re seeing a spike, they believe there is a common thread of drug activity- from marijuana to cocaine- that leads to gun crime.
“If you’re not buying drugs, selling drugs, or hanging out with somebody that’s doing one of those two things, your chance of being a victim of gun crime in Jacksonville is very low,” says Director Tom Hackney.
He says many of the recent shootings do have a gang element as well.
When WOKV first brought you the story late Tuesday about a string of shootings within just a few blocks in Northwest Jacksonville, we learned patrols are immediately increased in the area. JSO now says they have reassigned about ten patrols to some of the high-crime areas, like the Myrtle Avenue corridor in Northwest Jacksonville which we’ve mapped to the left.
They continue to reevaluate resources city-wide as well to see whether more officers can be reassigned from low- to high-crime areas but Williams says it’s not easy to find areas to change manpower without stretching the force too thin.
“We have other areas in the city that we also need to continue to work on that we can’t completely abandon,” Williams says.
He says in addition to the ten deployed more than one month ago, he has identified several other officers for the detail as well. The increased presence is both overt and covert, meaning you will see more patrol and may get your door knocked on to see if you have any information on recent crime- but there are other operations going on that JSO will not discuss.
That plea for information from you is taking on an increased significance with this spike.
“They [community members] can help us solve these crimes, they can help us get these perpetrators off the streets of their neighborhoods,” Hackney says.
He says information they received anonymously through Crime Stoppers always help solve murder cases. They’re also again pushing the Gun Bounty program- if you submit an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers about illegal guns you’re eligible for up to $3,000 ($1,000 if the tip leads to an arrest, $1,000 if the gun is recovered, and $1,000 if there is a murder solved as a result of the gun being recovered).
You can reach Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
With this apparent spike and the changes it’s prompting in enforcement, I asked whether you need to be concerned for your safety.
“Every citizen of Jacksonville needs to take their own personal safety in to account in every neighborhood,” Hackney says.
He encourages you to be vigilant, but know that police are working to make your streets safer.