JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sheriff Mike Williams sat down with News4Jax on Tuesday to tout an ongoing anti-gang initiative that is getting results and to show us how technology the city purchased to combat gun violence is already proving its worth.
ShotSpotter listens for gunfire and helps police pinpoint where it has occurred around the city.
A little over a week ago, 29-year-old Anthony Myers was found shot to death on West 17th Street.
ShotSpotter captured the sounds of the gunfire that took his life. Williams played the recording for us Tuesday, and it sound like a machine gun going off.
“That is not a movie,” Williams said of the sound. “That is not the Middle East. That is a neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida. We have got to get ahead of this.”
ShotSpotter has been active for 18 days, prompting 64 investigations, including Myers' homicide and two aggravated batteries.
Focusing on what the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is doing to fight violence in the city, Williams brought up a gang initiative, which involved working with big cities like New York and Chicago, that has brought in over a thousand arrests in the last two years.
Williams showed us a wall full of mugshots Tuesday from three of the most violent gangs in Jacksonville.
Surprisingly, all of those pictured on the wall were adults, mostly charged with assault and theft. Some were charged with murder, and at least two are dead.
Williams said part of the National Network for Safe Communities gang initiative was warning the gang members that if they committed crimes, they would be arrested. Now many are in jail.
“The messaging is, 'Don't be the most violent gang in the city. Don't shoot or kill anyone. Those are the new rules,'” Williams said. “This is what happens when you violate those rules. You become the most violent gang in the city, you become the priority of not only JSO but our law enforcement partners. This is the end result of that.”
Those results include 1,009 felony arrests and 507 misdemeanor arrests.
The sheriff said gang members are responsible for many of the crimes in the city but make up less than 1 percent of the population.
Williams said the body cameras pilot program is also up and running but has yet to capture a major incident, including Monday night's deadly police-involved shooting.
Another goal of the sheriff’s was to increase transparency with the community. On Tuesday, Williams said, a page called Open Data went live on the JSO website. It's a database with information on police-involved shooting dating back to 2015. The webpage shows which cases are open, the officers involved and reviews of the shooting by the State Attorney's Office and the Sheriff's Office.
To view the Open Data page, visit http://transparency.jaxsheriff.org.