JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Residents who live in the area of Harts Road in the 32218 ZIP code are voicing their concerns about what they call escalating crime in their Northside neighborhood.
On Monday, the councilman who represents the district, Reggie Gaffney, listened to the concerns.
“This community is saying enough is enough,” Gaffney said. “We are what you call darn tired.”
He was also joined by councilmembers Jacoby Pittman, Sam Newby and School Board Member Daryl Willie.
Gaffney said he needs community engagement but he’s also calling on police and Mayor Lenny Curry to help reduce crime in the area.
Residents held a demonstration Monday morning and say they will be in the area holding signs for the next three days to bring awareness to the crime in the area. They also want to see day rate hotels in the area gone.
Page after page shows hundreds of calls this year alone to 10885 Harts Road, the Gold Rush Inn. Crimes varying from domestic violence, burglaries, fights and shootings.
Another person living in this community isn’t sure closing the hotels will ultimately get rid of the problem.
“If they close the hotels, chances are the people doing what they are doing will go elsewhere and continue doing what they are doing so I think it’s much bigger than the hotels,” said Phyliss Hall who lives in the community.
Councilman Gaffney says in order to fight against the crime there must be a JSO presence 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
Some residents told News4Jax they are demanding change despite feeling forgotten by the city.
“It’s very frustrating,” said a Harts Road resident who did not want to be named. “It’s like we’re not getting answers to our community. Certain parts of town actually get responses and more support from their leaders, and we’re not getting that.”
The man said that for more than a decade, he has seen the decline of businesses in the area where incidents are known to happen, including a motel and convenience store near Dunn Avenue. Further north on Harts Road, he said, is a quiet working-class neighborhood, but residents have to drive through the crime-ridden area to get home.
“Councilman [Reggie] Gaffney, we want him out here to come survey the area and talk with the residents and do the job we elected him to do,” the resident said.
He shared two emails he sent to Gaffney -- one about his concerns of crime from June and the other from July. He said there was no response from Gaffney either time.
“We don’t know what the outcome is going to be. We’re just hoping something positive changes really soon,” he said.
The call for change comes after police said Saturday that a man was found shot inside a car after a crash in the intersection of Harts Road and Dunn Avenue and later died.
Saturday’s incident was the seventh deadly shooting on Harts Road this year, according to News4Jax records. Eight people have died in those shootings.
Within a mile of the intersection of Harts Road and Dunn Avenue, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office crime-mapping tool, 27 thefts, 12 assaults, six vandalism incidents, two robberies and one burglary have been reported in the last month.
“It is a tipping point for myself in my neighborhood. We’re demanding to get answers or demanding to clean up our neighborhood as soon as possible,” the Harts Road resident told News4Jax.
The resident said he is looking for code enforcement to close the motel and store and he wants to see more patrolling. He also said he believes Gaffney should live in the 32218 ZIP code to share these concerns with the area he represents.
Gaffney said he’s also put millions of dollars into the social justice committee to help end the plague of violence. He also wants the day rate hotels shut down.
Gaffney said Sheriff Mike Williams is already working on a plan to reduce crime in the area.
News4Jax is waiting for a comment from the mayor’s office.