JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Safety and Crime Reduction Task Force established by the Jacksonville City Council and charged with coming up with an action plan met for the first time Friday morning.
The task force is charged with recommending ways to cut down on crime in ways that go beyond arrests and prosecution by May.
More than 100 people applied to be part of the task force, but officials have narrowed the list down to include nearly 50 people, including City Council members, attorneys, teachers, school leaders, people who work with young people, and many others.
Despite a slight decline in the number of murders and homicides in Jacksonville in 2018 and an overall reduction in crime, city leaders said they need to do better.
They made it clear from the beginning this is not a study group, but a way to bring results. There is a chance the tax force could become a permanent City Council committee, with members serving two-year terms.
Some who attended Friday's meeting wonder if this will make a difference, including one woman whose 24-year-old daughter, Sahara Barkle, was murdered one year ago.
"We don’t need any more task forces. We need action," Rozella Brooks said. "We need more boots on the ground. Go to apartments, build relationships with kids, after-school programs that we had years ago are no longer in place. So what are kids supposed to do? Go in and play Fortnite, which is violent?"
Last week, News4Jax heard from Mayor Lenny Curry, Sheriff Mike Williams, and State Attorney Melissa Nelson about the city’s problem with crime.
“We're starting to see some results. [We’re] not celebrating- not happy with where we are but we're headed in the right direction, finally, after a long time,” Curry told Kent Justice.
“We do know you've got a small number of people in the community that commits a significant portion of the violence. And that's where the efforts are directed. So every time we remove one of them from the community, yes, we have a positive impact there,” Williams said.
Nelson said cutting down on crime is a community effort across the board.
“That's important because the community should have confidence in the fact that we are communicating with one another about all this violence because it affects everybody in our community,” Nelson added.