JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Five mass shootings within the last year in Jacksonville highlight the city's crime problem.
Even though Mayor Lenny Curry’s camp says it is not going to politicize crime, it's now the top campaign issue in the upcoming mayor's race after one person was killed and five others were wounded in the latest mass shooting early Wednesday morning in the Spring Park area.
In the wake of the shooting, News4Jax spoke with all the candidates for mayor about the city's crime issue and what they see as a solution.
When guns are blazing, no one is thinking about elections and politics. But it's elected officials who set the scene for how the city responds to those crimes, so it's no surprise that candidate for mayor, former Jacksonville City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche, puts most of the blame on Curry.
"We got to get a handle on the 'Curry crime wave' in order to protect our citizens and law enforcement," Brosche said Wednesday. "We are seeing crime continue to be a challenge. The citizens don't feel safe. The citizens feel questioning and concern about the increase in crime. We wake up every single morning, hearing about another shooting."
News4Jax talked to Curry about that Wednesday afternoon.
"I am not going to politicize violence," Curry said. "Here's what people know about me: I've been in office for four years now. And when I ran the first time, I acknowledged the previous administration had cut 147 police officers and I would restore those and we restored those plus, and we are deploying those resources in neighborhoods that need it so we can get these gang members off the street."
Brosche did not offer specifics for fighting crime, but said more has to be done in regard to prevention and intervention.
"It’s got to be a multifaceted approach," Brosche said. "We put a number of measures in place, but the missing link to me is tapping into the wisdom of the community."
That’s a similar approach candidate for mayor Jimmy Hill said the city needs to follow -- bring back more mentors for youth. He also suggested tapping into the military.
Omega Allen, who is also running for mayor again, said the city needs to hold the sheriff accountable for the resources, such as extra officers, provided to him.
Curry said they are taking steps that should have an impact soon.
"We have put $40-plus million in the Kids Hope Alliance and we are now investing that in a way that is specifically targeted. So the Kids Hope Alliance is assessing council districts where the highest needs are for young people -- using data -- and that wasn’t happening before."
Wednesday marks 62 days until the first election in March. In the days leading up to March 19, it's likely more crime-fighting proposals will be discussed.