JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Jacksonville close to breaking records for homicides this year, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is looking to make some changes.
On Wednesday he addressed Cure Violence, a program he started last year. The goal of the program is to curb deadly violence by having people work with others in the street.
There were 56 shootings in 23 days in July in Jacksonville and through the first seven months of the year, there were 107 homicides in Jacksonville, 85 of which were classified as murders. The city is on pace to have the most homicides than in the previous 20 years.
Now, Curry wants to expand Cure Violence to other neighborhoods.
According to a city spokesperson, the new area of focus will be on the Northside, north of Edgewood. The spokesperson said this area was chosen based on data showing shootings and murders over the last three years. The spokesperson also said a grant from the state through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will be providing $500,000 in additional funding.
Curry said despite the violence over the weekend with shootings at basketball courts and murders in other areas of town, there are positive signs when it comes to Cure Violence.
He’s pointed to the two areas on Jacksonville’s North and Northwest side where the program is in place.
Curry said in an area called Bridges to a Cure, which is near Myrtle Avenue and the 20th Expressway, there has only been one murder in 100 days.
Curry also pointed to the other area near Brentwood called the Noah’s Ark Project that went 85 days this year without a murder.
Curry said it suggests that the program is showing promise and that is one reason why he added $1.7 million to his budget for Cure Violence.
But the program has its critics, like the Northside Coalition.
“We are applying a Cure Violence Band-Aid to a massive and open hemorrhaging wound,” said Ben Frazier.
Frazier said Jacksonville needs to take a different approach and use community groups that are already here.
He also said the city needs to address the conditions in neighborhoods like blight and the lack of jobs.
Frazier and others have been meeting with the mayor about these issues and Curry said they are making progress.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, a retired police officer, said the public needs to look at more than just murders. Shootings also need to be addressed because so far this year more than 340 people in Jacksonville have been shot.
“I think we have to examine how the money is being spent in Cure Violence. If the objective is to stop murders then it may be worth the money, but if the objective is to stop the shootings the only reason that the shootings haven’t resulted in murders because the bullet didn’t hit the person in the right place,” Jefferson said.