Jacksonville, FL — Following what the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is calling a 'targeted' shooting in the Spring Park area and recent reports revealing retaliation was likely a motive in the shooting that led up to the death of 7-year-old Tashawn Gallon, the curtain is being pulled back on City efforts to reduce violent crime.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry have now publicly released their Comprehensive Gang Reduction Strategy.
The memo acknowledges that while the overall crime rate is down in Jacksonville, homicides, aggravated assaults, and other violence actually increased in 2017. They believe the increase is caused by a small group of offenders in gangs, that oftentimes call themselves entertainment groups. The memo says these groups are not motivated by money, but instead protecting their reputations.
The memo breaks down the following current and pending initiatives:
A. John Jay Initiative
- This programming essentially involves targeting individuals and small groups known to participate in gangs to receive a dual message of warning and encouragement to make positive changes from law enforcement.
B. City-Led Investment in Crime Fighting Technology
- Investing in access to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network to automatically capture and compare ballistic information
-Creation of a Crime Gun Intelligence Center, which better allows for detectives to connect gun-related crimes
C. State Attorney's Office Initiatives
-Targeted Prosecution Unit
-Development of Arrest Alert System
-Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee
The memo also looked to the future, with a break down of proposed solutions.
This includes determining how to stop juveniles from being able to get a hold of guns in the first place. One idea being proposed includes expanding the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office so-called 9PM Routine from social media into a full-fledged citywide PSA strategy.
The memo also considers how to prevent children related to gang members from becoming involved themselves. This includes creating year-round sports and extracurricular activities, utilizing mentors and volunteers to provide positive influences.
The development of a strong mentorship program was of the ideas being proposed. The memo acknowledges while there are several mentorship programs already in existence in Jacksonville, it says many of them don't allow at-risk or adjudicated youth from participating. It also says Florida statues and Department of Juvenile Justice's policies also make it extremely difficult for people with past criminal convictions to become mentors. It argues these individuals are likely the people most suited to mentor at-risk youth.
The memo also looks at the need to have an organized campaign to counter the 'anti-snitch' culture. In 2018, the State Attorney's Office and JSO launched a program called Operation Cooperation, which encourages non-violent offenders to work with law enforcement in exchange for substantially reduced criminal sanctions.
In addition, the memo also raised the idea of identifying and prosecuting selected gang members carrying firearms in Jacksonville. The memo says newly enacted state legislation makes this a possibility.
Lastly, the memo looked at working with professional sports organizations, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, for partnerships on youth programs It also raised the idea of enacting a similar policy as the Chicago Bears. The memo says that team currently allows for the exchange of game tickets for firearms.
For a complete look at the 32 page memo, click HERE.