JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local leaders took to Jacksonville's streets Tuesday with a common goal: combating crime.
Mayor Lenny Curry and members of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office walked the Justina Road community in Arlington. It's an area filled with families that have endured a recent string of violence.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office crime-mapping tool showed that within a mile of Justina Road there have been five thefts, four cases of battery, four burglaries and one auto theft within the past month.
The list of crimes dating back through last year is even longer.
“There’s issues in terms of income here. There’s crime issues, so I want these people to know that we’re here for them, and I want to hear directly from them,” Curry said.
There's a school in the area where the city leaders walked Tuesday, and families said the area's uptick in crimes needs to be addressed.
“It’s crazy out here. It’s gotten worse, and I won’t even let my kids go out and play, it’s gotten so bad,” said one woman, who told News4Jax her car was recently stolen and her apartment has been broken into multiple times.
The woman, who has two sons, both with disabilities, declined to give her name, but she used the face time with the mayor Tuesday to express her concerns.
“When I used to live -- it was Lighthouse Bay, now it’s Matthews Crossing -- they put a substation out there for a while, and it actually cut the crime in half, so I’m wondering if maybe they could try to do that, maybe it would help it out some here?” the woman asked Curry.
“So you would feel better about a larger police presence?” Curry responded.
“Yes,” the woman said, “because my apartment is targeted on a regular basis.”
Asst. Chief Derrick Mitchell, zone commander for Zone 2, which includes the Justina Road area of Arlington, said the area needs this type of attention.
“We do have some challenges as it relates to crime, both on the property and violent crime side, but we’re working very closely with the people who live in this community to address those issues,” Mitchell said.
But he said events like the one Tuesday really do make a difference.
“We’ve got a lot of great work being done out here, so I’m optimistic moving forward that we’re going to be able to solve a number of the problems that we have in this area,” Mitchell said.
Mary Webster, a 27-year resident of the area, said the neighborhood walk was a nice gesture, but more needs to be done.
“I can’t explain it to you. We just need help. We sincerely need God’s help,” Webster said. “Kids need to be in school, they need to be educated, they need to have respect, and they need to go to church and learn the word of God.”
Rep. Al Lawson, D-Jacksonville, was set to be at the walk Tuesday, but his office said he had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t make it.
Curry said he plans to continue his community walks, as Sheriff Mike Williams has been doing since he took office.
News4Jax asked the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office if other parts of the city have been identified as high-priority. A spokeswoman said zone commanders monitor the needs in individual neighborhoods, just like Justina.