JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While Floridians adapt to the new normal with coronavirus concerns and stay-at-home orders, criminals aren’t changing the way they operate.
Even though some of these stories are getting crowded out on the news, violent crimes are still happening in Northeast Florida community, especially Jacksonville. While the stock market, business, traffic and everything else appears to be down during this crisis, crime is not.
In the month of March, the city averaged almost two shootings every day, with at least 18 homicides, according to data compiled by News4Jax.
Sheriff Mike Williams, addressing city council at the end of March, said police had a 4% increase in calls and he saw no drop in violence despite calls for distancing.
News4Jax has been keeping track of JSO emails sent to media outlets confirming active investigations. In March, at least 55 people were shot. Of those, 18 people died. Detectives have announced only two arrests.
For the first three days of April there have been at least one shooting. In that case, police said the victim was expected to survive.
“The criminals are still out doing what they do, causing mayhem, stealing, robbing,” said A.J. Jordan, with the crime-fighting group MAD DADS. He is upset, but not surprised about the number of shootings, despite stay-at-home orders.
“This coronavirus is not stopping the criminals at all,” Jordan added.
“Crime is continuing, crime is going to continue, that’s one thing we can be sure of,” said Wyllie Hodges, director of First Coast Crime Stoppers, an anonymous tip line that pays people for pivotal information. He worries about violence during the quarantine.
“Tensions are high, people are inside, they’re having to spend a lot more close time with family and family members and sometimes they are up,” Hodges noted. “You’ve got a situation where people need things, need money, which creates another issue.”
Crime Stoppers is still getting tips and paying out rewards. Hodges said the numbers of anonymous calls and emails were the same as during this time last year. MAD DADS volunteers are no longer canvassing door to door in neighborhoods, but still supporting victims and taking calls. They are asking people to be even more vigilant.
“It’s become more important for citizens to speak up,” Jordan added.
Anyone with information about unsolved crimes can call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477) or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The reward for information leading to an arrest remains at up to $3,000.