Jacksonville shootings down 32% compared to this time last year. How to keep crime rates down, according to advocates

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four recent operations by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office have pulled huge amounts of drugs and the people accused of selling them off the streets.

More than 40 arrests later, the vast majority of those accused are still in jail.

MORE: Westside Jacksonville gang dismantled in joint agency operation, sheriff says | Sheriff says ‘Operation Bright Lights’ pulled plug on gang that had ‘terrorized’ Jacksonville for years

News4JAX data shows through March of this year there have been a 22% drop in murders when compared to last March.

There’s also been a 32% decline in the number of people shot through March compared to the same period a year ago when there were a total of 101.

When he took office in November, Sheriff T.K. Waters said he would do things differently, and he is, utilizing his background in the homicide, gang and narcotics units.

“We will use all of our resources and those of our partnering agencies to put you in prison forever if we can,” said Sheriff Waters during a briefing for Operation Decrypted.

News4JAX went through all the arrests in these operations and according to the JSO inmate search, nine of them have been released.

News4JAX spoke with an attorney who said it’s important to remember these suspects are presumed innocent and their bonds are set by how dangerous they are to the community and if they’re a flight risk.

So, how can we keep crime rates down and prevent people from committing the same crimes or worse?

Rebecca Davis with R.E.S.T.O.R.E, an organization helping women recently released from jail or prisons, said one in three people will wind up back behind bars if they don’t get help.

“Most crimes, you know, unfortunately, happen for a reason. It could be a means of, you know, taking care of you or taking care of your family. I’m not justifying those behaviors, you know, but it’s true,” said Davis. “Education plays a role, you know, for educating employers who will be willing to hire people who has committed a crime or who’s formerly incarcerated.”

She said that requires funding that oftentimes these kinds of programs don’t get. So, they try to work together.

R.E.S.T.O.R.E partners with Prisoners of Christ.

Prisoners of Christ CEO Jeff Witt said last year almost 26,000 people were released from Florida prisons. Between 80 and 150 came to Duval.

Witt said these groups help break cycles for those individuals which helps the community.

“You help an individual not commit any more crimes, you’ve eliminated victims. How do you put a price on that? I don’t know. I know for me, I don’t want my family, my daughters, ever victimized. So it does save tax dollars if you keep them out of jail, it saves tax dollars for the whole court system. But if you can save that personal suffering if you can eliminate that, that benefits our entire city,” said Witt.

News4JAX also reached out to Operation New Hope.

It provides training and support for people to reconnect to the workforce, their families and communities.

In 2022 they prepared more than 700 people with leaving prison with individualized reentry success plans, more than one million clients have safe transitional housing and helped more than 550 clients successfully complete career development and vocational training.

For more information on R.E.S.T.O.R.E: restoreduval.com

For more information on Prisoners of Christ: pocjax.org

For more information on Operation New Hope: operationnewhope.org

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad