108 arrests since Operation Ceasefire launched in Northwest Jacksonville

Sheriff to ask city for restoration of 40 officers, 40 community service officers

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In the 30 days since the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and city leaders launched Operation Ceasefire, there have been 41 felony arrests and 67 misdemeanor arrests.

The operation was introduced after a spike in violence in Northwest Jacksonville in April.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, Sheriff John Rutherford said the first phase of the operation -- knock-and-talks -- was completed. He said officers went into the neighborhood, which has about 18,000 homes, and knocked on 13,932 doors.

He said they spoke with 6,916 residents and received helpful information to drive violent crime out of the community.

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Rutherford said police also began a major investigation, but he wouldn't go into further detail, only to say the Sheriff's Office will discuss it at some point in the future.

The sheriff said phase two of Operation Ceasefire has begun, with officers on hot spot patrols in the targeted areas.

Additional officers have been placed in the area to follow up on leads from the knock-and-talks, as well as to target prolific offenders.

"They give us information about people, places and things. That's about the best I can tell you," Rutherford said. "And it's appreciated and it's very helpful. And that is why we are now following up on some of those tips."

Rutherford said the Sheriff's Office is gradually expanding the targeted area.

The felony arrests included charges of murder and aggravated battery, among others.

Rutherford said officers issued 484 traffic citations and 200 warning citations during the 30-day span. And he said they seized 17 guns, 382 grams of cocaine, 167 grams of marijuana and $9,900 cash.

The sheriff said homicides from April to May were reduced by 50 percent, from two to one, as were aggravated batteries, from six to three. He said aggravated assaults in which a firearm was discharged were down 61.5 percent, from 26 to 10.

Rutherford said he'll be asking the city this year for the restoration of 40 officers and 40 community service officers. He said 15 more officers will be restored with money from a federal grant.

In recent years, 147 police officers and all 92 community service officers were cut. Rutherford said it's critical to get back to the resources the Sheriff's Office had in 2011, which had the lowest murder rate and crime numbers in 40 years.

"Wherever I put resources I see crime go down," Rutherford said. "More policing takes more police. When you go to a hot-spot area and move resources there, crime will go down. That's why the restoration of these positions is so important."

Also, the sheriff will ask for a new fleet of cars for the Sheriff's Office.

In all, the sheriff will ask for an additional $22 million in the city budget this year.

He said Operation Ceasefire will continue at least through summer and into the fall or until crime drops significantly.

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