KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. – Following a News4Jax report highlighting recent issues with violence in the small town of Keystone Heights, the City Council is taking action.
The Keystone Heights City Council had considered looking at starting its own police department but determined it wouldn’t work financially. Now, city leaders told News4Jax that they’re looking at other options, including the possibility of putting in a Clay County Sheriff’s Office substation.
Several violent incidents in the Keystone Heights area made headlines in late 2019 and early 2020. In late November, a man was beaten to death with baseball bats at a home down a dirt road. Along another dirt road across town, there was a triple shooting on New Year’s Eve that left two people dead. In mid-January, News4Jax learned that the Sheriff’s Office was looking into a suspected teenage fight club after videos posted on social media attracted attention.
When News4Jax was there last month, residents said that they had noticed a lot of law enforcement.
“It was bad in the back of the subdivision, but police have been going through quite a bit now, the sheriff’s department,” Keystone Heights resident Christina Underwood said. “I know they’ve closed down a couple of drug houses.”
But residents have still voiced concerns and, as a result, the Keystone Heights City Council took action.
“The City Council directed me -- in our January meeting -- directed me to investigate the possibility of creating our own police department,” Keystone Heights City Manager Scott Kornegay said.
News4Jax was contacted by Kornegay, who said the city has determined that simply doesn’t make sense. He said creating their own police force is just too costly and would perhaps force a tax increase.
So the next step is working with the Sheriff’s Office to increase its presence. One idea that has been floated is putting in a substation in Keystone Heights. Kornegay said the idea will be discussed at their next council meeting March 2.
“Public safety is government’s No. 1 responsibility, and they’re all mindful of that and we’re all working very hard to address it,” Kornegay said.
The public is invited to attend the Keystone Heights City Council meeting at 6 p.m. March 2 at City Hall.