City Council wants to form permanent crime task force

New board would have fewer members, but potentially more funding

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Despite persistent efforts to keep a lid on Jacksonville's violent crime problem, the number of homicides continues to grow.

So far in 2019, 98 people have been killed in Duval County and more than 200 people shot, according to the latest tally compiled by News4Jax.

Last year, the city formed a temporary anti-crime task force aimed at coming up with solutions to the bloodshed. The panel disbanded this summer, but now there's a push for a permanent replacement.

City Council member Aaron Bowman, who established the task force, believes it has an important role to play in the city's future. Establishing a new task force would require full council approval.

"This task force isn't responding to crime," Bowman told News4Jax. "It's trying to figure out how we stop it from happening in the first place."

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That is why he and City Council president Scott Wilson, along with several of their peers, want to see the task force's work continue. The panel already developed a number of recommendations, including:

  • Community engagement
  • Youth mentorship
  • Workforce training
  • Substance abuse counseling

But the No. 1 recommendation from the task force was to carry on its work

Bowmany said the new task force will be leaner -- about half the size of its predecessor, which had 44 members -- but could have power if it can secure a funding source for programs to carry out its goals.

"What we discussed is can’t you have a task force like this that doesn’t have access to financial resources," Bowman said.

On Friday, News4Jax visited several neighborhoods throughout the city to ask people what they think of the city's approach to fighting crime.

Travis Payne, who grew up off Myrtle Avenue in Northeast Jacksonville, said there is one thing the city needs to take into account when it comes to bringing violence to heel.

"People need jobs around here," he said. "That’s what it comes down to. You got a feed your family and most people got to do what they got to do to feed their child, you know what I’m saying?"

"It’s not the right way, but they got to be able to make more jobs for felons," he added.

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