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Sheriff says consistency is key as crime wave intensifies calls to stop violence

12 people shot during violent week in Jacksonville

Sheriff Mike Williams discuss the Cure Violence program and how JSO will bring the crime rate down.
Sheriff Mike Williams discuss the Cure Violence program and how JSO will bring the crime rate down.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – So far, it has been a violent summer in Jacksonville, with 12 people shot in the last week.

According to News4Jax records, there have been 78 homicides this year in Jacksonville.

On Thursday, Sheriff Mike Williams talked about the current crime wave.

"We're still committed to doing all of the things that we've been doing, the focus deterrence initiatives," he said. "It's just about being consistent and staying engaged in the work we're doing now."

The latest murder happened Monday at a gas station in Springfield, where 18-year-old Dari'one Flanigan was killed in a double shooting. Though police have not said much about the case, an incident report shows the victims took themselves to UF Health hospital. While Flanigan's family has declined to speak on camera, there is an outpouring of emotion on Facebook from loved ones. 

Monday's murder and the summertime spike in violence prompted attention to what the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and city leaders are doing to bring down the number of crimes. 

The sheriff said he shifts resources to areas that become hot spots, such as Northwest Jacksonville. 

"We're always making adjustments, making sure we're putting the right number of policemen in the right place at the right time," Williams said Thursday. "So the first part of the year was incredibly busy for us, and we've had a lull, which is good, and now there's a couple spikes that have occurred. We've got to make another adjustment."

The city could start to see that adjustment soon. But as far as other special programs and initiatives that would go along with the Cure Violence program, according to the sheriff, there is nothing new on the book.

"No, not really," Williams said. "I mean, we always, in the summertime, have some additional initiatives rolling out based on, you know, again, crime data and things, so you'll see some of those you may notice in the neighborhoods from time to time. But, really, it's a similar strategy that we've used in years past."

WATCH: Sheriff Mike Williams talks about Cure Violence program

The Cure Violence program is aimed at stopping the violence before it starts and targets Northwest Jacksonville and the Eastside. The plan is to treat violence as an illness and it encourages so-called violence interrupters. These are the people from the community, who are not associated with the Sheriff's Office, who understand the neighborhood issues and are building trust with the community members behind the scenes in order to get people to put down the guns. 

Cure  Violence officially rolled out in Jacksonville in the first week of June, with the program launching in two zones identified as the most violent ZIP codes. 

When asked how he thinks the program is working, Williams said it's still too early to evaluate it.

"I think that one of the things with some of the initiatives, it's really about managing expectations. None of this is magic, so you're not going to snap your fingers and have an immediate impact," he said. "What you've got to do is be consistent with your work."

With 35 people shot in the month of June so far, and 11 of those shootings fatal, the sheriff said the key to success is consistency. 

"We know we've had an impact with the focus deterrence strategies that have been in place for a couple years now," Williams said. "And so, again, Cure Violence coming into that, it's going to take them a few months, but I can already see what is a good, strong foundation that they're going to have some success in this."

Organizers with Cure Violence have told News4Jax that they realize they are in the midst of an uphill battle to stop crime, and even after the recent uptick in shootings, they are urging the community to remain patient. 

The sheriff said he will work with the Police Athletic League and other youth groups to try and keep children off the streets, but said the city needs to give Cure Violence a chance to work. 

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.