JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a recent string of violence in Northwest Jacksonville, a neighborhood called New Town took a proactive approach Thursday night by holding a meeting to prevent violence in the area.
There have not been any reported gun-related incidents in New Town, but members of the community addressed what needs to be done in order to keep crime out of their neighborhood. Residents are calling it the New Town Success Zone as a platform to get on the right track.
Like many New Town community members, veteran Hallie Williams-Bey has lived in the area his whole life. He was also neighborhood watch captain 30 years ago.
"It's a beautiful neighborhood. I've watched the parents raise the children, the parents die and now it's an empty house and the kids don't want to come back to the neighborhood," Williams-Bey said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced that it will be stepping up patrols near Edward Waters College and in other surrounding areas.
"In some of the areas where we're experiencing some of the problems of increased violence, we're increasing the patrol and we're shifting personnel from other sectors within the zone where we may not have as much of a demand," said Assistant Chief and Zone 5 Commander Tony Davis.
In the next few months, neighbors also said the New Town Success Zone will feature more retail and development in the area.
Dr. Irvin Cohen, of Edward Waters College, said that maintaining things like the community garden and the Success Park is only the beginning.
"Intuitively crime happens in places where there's less hope. So what we're trying to do is economic development represents hope. Building human capacity represents hope, so if we can bring hope to this neighborhood by removing any social or economic barriers then I think we've done our job to address the issue relative to crime," said Cohen.