JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As police combat a rash of violence and try to solve a string of recent murders, local anti-violence advocates emphasized the importance of Crime Stoppers in finding those answers.
First Coast Crime Stoppers runs the anonymous tip line for Duval, Clay, Nassau, Baker, Bradford and Union counties.
But a plumbing incident at its headquarters and staffing problems left the organization scrambling this week to update its website with the city's most recent violent crimes.
As of Tuesday morning, the most recent case listed on the unsolved crimes page of FCCrimeStoppers.com was the summer slaying of Riverside bus boy Daniel Rowe. That entry was updated in October.
“It’s very important. Social media is a direct path to solving crimes,” said A.J. Jordan of the Jacksonville chapter of MAD DADS, another anti-crime group that doesn’t get state funding.
Jordan said people aren’t always watching the news, and websites like those of First Coast Crime Stoppers are crucial for people who want information about crimes.
“All our information is up to date as much as we can,” Jordan said of his group. “I’m not saying we have all the murders, but it's been 15 murders in Jacksonville this year; MAD DADS has nine. We have to get that information out quick.”
Wylie Hodges, executive director of First Coast Crime Stoppers, said his office is still cleaning up from a burst pipe that exploded and damaged its computer server. He said that accident and a personnel problem are why the organization's website is out of date.
“The lady that keeps up on it has been out some, has been out, and we are in the process of putting all of our murder cases on the website, so it’s being worked on as we talk, even,” Hodges said.
By midafternoon Tuesday two more murders had been added to the unsolved crimes page: 22-month-old Aiden McClendon and 22-year-old Jerry Brown. They were killed in separate drive-by shootings while they were sitting in cars outside Jacksonville homes.
Hodges said the organization typically helps Jacksonville police solve about 20 crimes a month.
Hodges said financial concerns had nothing to do with the lag on the website.
“We always take donations, but that has nothing to do with it. We’re good,” Hodges said. “We’re getting it up on the website as quickly as we can.”
Three ways to provide a crime tip that are 100 percent anonymous:
- Call toll free: 1-866-845-TIPS (8477)
- Submit a tip online: FCCrimeStoppers.com
- Submit a text message tip: Start the text with Tip326 and then report the information. Send to CRIMES (274637)