JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – State Attorney Melissa Nelson explained the challenges and opportunities of enforcing the law in District 4, which includes Duval, Nassau and Clay counties to a local philanthropy group Monday.
Nelson shared behind the scenes look at footage from violent crime cases that her office is in charge of and talked about the challenges of drug overdoses and prosecuting drug dealers who are making substances that are killing users.
Nelson stressed the importance of being transparent with the public about the dangers of drugs.
“It’s affecting every segment of our society. In fact, before just talking to you and after this speech, I’ve been approached by three different people who have been touched by it in their own families,” Nelson said.
Nelson’s office will take awareness and prevention one step further by launching a social media campaign to help reinforce how dangerous street drugs are to those who consume them.
She said her office will continue to enforce the law when it’s violated but also recognizes that prevention is important, especially for youth violence.
“The most important thing we can do as a city is before that kids decide to pickup a gun or join a gang or use a gun at that point and time, if we can intervene with that and change the trajectory of that child’s life, we also change the safety of our community,” Nelson said.
According to News4JAX data, the number of people shot is declining.
Just this year, through March, there were 69 people reported shot. In March of 2022, that number was at 101 people, which shows a 32% decline.
Among the violent crime cases that Nelson’s office has prosecuted, the murder of Jared Bridegan, who was killed has been getting attention in Florida and beyond. Mario Fernandez Saldana was arrested and quickly indicted in the murder case.
News4JAX asked Nelson if she would pursue the death penalty. She said her office is assessing that option.
From violent crimes to drug overdoses, Nelson said their focus will remain pursuing justice and enforcing the law. She also said she loves her job and plans to run for a third term.