City leaders discuss efforts to reduce crime downtown

2 recent double shootings downtown have residents on edge

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City investors and police gathered Tuesday at a Downtown Vision meeting where the main focus was on making sure people feel safe to go downtown after two recent double shootings.

The shootings left a 16-year-old dead and three other teens injured.

The violence has led to some uneasiness, and city leaders and police discussed Tuesday overall safety and possibly making changes to ensure that patrons are still willing to go downtown.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said security plans are being reviewed after a shooting during the first Art Walk of the year Jan. 4 and another shooting in front of The Jacksonville Landing last week. But police said overall, crime is down in downtown.

Officials with Downtown Vision also discussed lighting in the area, making sure all the lights are working and are helpful when it comes to people seeing where they are going. They're also looking into ways to control large groups in the area, especially during events. They said want to do things that can make people feel better and safer downtown.

"People want to be able to walk through, walk around, not have to walk around these groups of people,” said Jacob Gordon, CEO of Downtown Vision. “That means something like, putting tents only on one side and move some people from the other side. Do those things. That's more about an event flow."

In wake of the shootings, some have suggested daytime curfews for minors and ways to prevent people from gathering at certain times.

The Landing's owner, Toney Sleiman, said he wants stronger security downtown.

He said he’s also considering a policy at the Landing where any group of people under the age of 21 would be told to leave.

While police weren't specific Tuesday, they said there could be changes to the way they handle traffic and crowds.

"With what happened recently, we know that we need to review that, and adjust as needed,” JSO Asst. Chief Jackson Short said.

Police said most of the crime downtown happens between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. and it mostly involves people who know each other. They also said it's rare for innocent victims to be targeted.

Police said there are also things they can do to monitor the number of people out and about.

"If they're not technically doing anything illegal, but at the same time, give us a bad feeling, we can just stay with them, make a conversation, ask how their day was,” Short said.

Officials also reiterated the "see something, say something" policy. Whether you see something happening that concerns you during an event, or if you notice people talk on social media about something disturbing, police said they want citizens to step forward.

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