Sheriff to roll long-term crime-fighting plan in weeks

Mayor Lenny Curry met with Sheriff Mike Williams on Wednesday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sheriff Mike Williams told News4Jax Wednesday morning that he planned to roll out a long-term crime plan within the next two to three weeks.

"I'm confident with what we wind up with in the end is going to be effective. We've been working on this since July," Williams said as he arrived at City Hall to meet with Mayor Lenny Curry. "The plan is to do something that hasn't been tried here before but has been very effective in other cities."

Williams said the short-term fix includes putting more officers in high crime neighborhoods and some strategic enforcement with the gang investigations unit.

The sheriff said he believes the short-term solutions buy a little time to get the long-term plan together.

"We have just began putting significant resources back into public  safety, back into at risk youth,back into police officers on the street," Curry said. "This was neglected for years."

The sheriff and mayor said details of their plan will be made public in the near future.

"It is a holistic effort to make sure that the community is engaged in a very specific, targeted way. That the bad guys are taken off the street," Curry said.

Wednesday's meeting comes less than a week after a 22-month-old boy was killed in a gang-related drive-by shooting on the Eastside. Aiden McClendon was sitting in a car with his mother and grandmother when he was shot. The killer has not been arrested.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in Aiden's murder. You can remain anonymous by calling 1-866-845-TIPS.

Some of what is being planned by the mayor and sherirr may sound similar to the Jacksonville Journey, a program began in 2007 by Mayor John Peyton in response to an increase in crime and murders of children.

"It's definitely complements the journey, but it's very specific to the violence we are dealing with," Williams said. "So the journey is that long-term view that we have to have. This initiative is about bringing the community together to address this issue as a community-wide issue. It has to be."

Curry has been very outspoken about what he think lead to the problem: a lack of funding in prior years for the sheriff and public safety. That prompted this response from Mayor Alvin Brown's  former staff

"The suggestion that someone who stopped being mayor in June 2015 is somehow responsible for crime happening now is unfortunate and inaccurate. Pointing fingers at former elected officials does not solve the problem," former Brown spokesman David Hunt said in a statement.

"I am not blaming anyone. I'm simply stating a fact that the previous administration chose not to invest in police officers and not to invest in the Jacksonville Journey," Curry said. "The numbers are clear. That is a fact. It is on us now. We are going to invest in it, and we are going to get it right. But the facts are clear: They ignored public safety."

About the Author: