Jacksonville Commander Says Downtown Crime Down, Recent Shootings 'Were An Anomaly’

Jan 24, 2017

Credit Jeff Wright / Flickr

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief Jackson Short is trying to calm fears of downtown safety following two double shootings near the Jacksonville Landing.

Short, who oversees the patrol sector that includes downtown, addressed a group of business owners, investors and public officials Tuesday.

He said although the shootings were traumatic, overall violent crime is down.

“Those two recent shootings that we had downtown were an anomaly. It’s not something that we’ve seen downtown before; it’s involving groups of young men from other parts of town that came to Jacksonville to meet,” he said.

Short said 186 calls reporting “priority crimes” — aggravated battery, sexual battery, robbery and murder — were made to police in his area last year.

But Short said that statistic can be misleading for two reasons: His zone is much larger than what people generally believe downtown’s boundaries are and not every call to police ends in an arrest.

Still, Short acknowledged there could be a growing perception problem with downtown public safety. Though he couldn’t go into details, he said JSO is tweaking their strategy for patrolling large events like Art Walk.

“There’s pedestrian violations that we can use to our advantage if we need them. If they’re not technically doing anything illegal, but at the same time they’re giving us a bad feeling, we can just stand with them,” he said.

Short said the goal will be to keep people moving while they’re downtown, cutting down on loitering, which he said can lead to problems.

He also said the downtown sector saw a 10 percent decrease in violent crime last year.

As our partner News4Jax reported Monday, an 18-year-old was arrested in connection with the most recent shooting near the Jacksonville Landing that left one person dead and another seriously injured.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.