Sheriff: Police OT results in 40% decrease in shootings

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office invested 24,000 hours in high-crime areas

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sheriff Mike Williams said Thursday that 24,000 hours of police overtime dedicated to Jacksonville's high-crime neighborhoods has resulted in a 40 percent decrease in non-domestic shootings.

Williams and Mayor Lenny Curry said a $1.5 million allocation for overtime kept more officers on the streets for longer hours, and they want taxpayers to know the investment is working.

"People of Jacksonville need to know that resources have been allocated and that the men and women in uniform are doing their job, and that it is, in fact, making a difference," Curry said.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said there were 90 non-domestic shootings in January, when the overtime was committed to the project, and 50 in June.

"We are talking about numbers here, but keep in mind that every one of these persons you're talking about families that are impacted by homicides or shootings. These are serious events for people," Williams said. 

One woman who know the pain these shootings cause has noticed the difference.

"Rhonda McDowell / AIDEN Mcclendon's grandmother (phoner)]

"I've seen a lot of police officers. I've been seeing them in my neighborhood," said Rhonda McDowell, the grandmother of Aiden McClendon, a 22-month-old shot killed on Jan. 29.

"We still have these young people with guns ... just murdering people just to do it," McDowell said.

Williams and Curry said that while the ramping of up resources has shown results, it's not a permanent solution.

"Overtime is always going to be a short-term fix. Not only financially can you not sustain it, but it is tough on the officers to continue to do this," Williams said. 

The sheriff also confirmed Thursday that the department will get body cameras for officers next year in what will be one of the largest programs in the state. He said they will begin testing the cameras in the field next spring. He said they are not rushing the program because they need to get it right.

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