JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Jacksonville is inching closer to another attempt at crime prevention.
Mayor Lenny Curry said Cure Violence, which uses former convicts to reach out to those at risk for being involved in violent crimes, will be in place by this summer.
"We expect them to be here this summer and to have the resources that they need to have to begin disrupting violent crimes," Curry said.
On Monday, the I-TEAM spoke with the mayor and Sheriff Mike Williams about the progress. Williams said he is optimistic the Cure Violence will help cut down on the crime, as the program is a proven approach that uses former criminals with street credibility to reach out to those at-risk of committing crimes and those who are likely to be victims.
One of the areas in Jacksonville where the Cure Violence team will likely focus on is the 32209 ZIP code in Northwest Jacksonville, one of the city's most violence-plagued communities.
"We started out this year with a spike and then we had a little bit of a lull," Williams said.
In February, the News4Jax was the first to show how the approach works when the I-TEAM visited a Cure Violence office in Philadelphia. That's where team members explained how they build rapport and warn of the consequences of violence.
Curry, Williams and State Attorney Melissa Nelson all agreed on bringing it to the most dangerous neighborhoods in Jacksonville and the city finding the funding.
"It's all about priorities," Curry said. "So I will actually make sure that my budget is prioritized to get them in and doing their work."
The leaders applaud their investments in a bullet database, a gunshot alert system and a unified crime center.
"We’ve got lots of cases where NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistics Information Network) is used, separate cases were ShotSpotter is used," Williams said.
There are challenges to Cure Violence coming from the state’s passing of Marsy’s Law, which keeps information about crime victims confidential unless their families choose to reduce it. Some are worried that could get in the way of the work the Cure Violence team hopes to do.
"I think we’ve got to do with Marsy‘s Law is do what we do with the victims in mind. We’re going to have conversations this week about how do we apply it here," the sheriff said. "We are still getting information out of the public because I believe that’s incredibly important."
Cure Violence managers in Chicago are submitting a full plan to the city of Jacksonville with how they’ll start the program in Jacksonville and how much money they’ll need. The I-TEAM has requested that document, but has not yet received it.