Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said a larger police presence has decreased street shootings.
After a shooting spike early in the year, the city gave JSO $1.5 million to pay for officer overtime — and Williams said more officers equals less crime.
“We have put 24,000 man hours on the street in some really challenged neighborhoods in our community; through that you get what you’ve got here today,” Williams said. “So we have really — from our high in January — created an average reduction, cumulative reduction of about 40 percent.”
Williams said domestic shootings aren’t included in these numbers, but said the city has seen about a 40 percent reduction in street shootings since February. In January there were 90 non-domestic shootings. Since then, the monthly number has bobbled between 48 and 64.
But Williams said overtime is only a short-term fix. JSO has spent a million dollars in overtime so far this year.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said more officers also make people feel safer.
“When I’m one on one with people — regardless of race; regardless of neighborhood — they want to know that there’s a presence there and that we care about their neighborhood and their families,” he said.
Williams said JSO plans to start a police body camera program, which is currently being researched.
“It is incredibly important for us to get this right,” Williams said. “So there are a lot of pieces and parts to this that we’ve got to make sure that we do correctly before we roll the program out.”
Williams said the force should also better reflect the demographic of the city and JSO is working to recruit more officers of color and women. With a large number of officers retiring soon, Williams expects to be hiring 200 officers in the next next years.
Williams also announced this week he’s requesting a review of a Jacksonville Jaguar player’s crash into a retention pond early Sunday morning.
The crash report states running back Denard Robinson and a female passenger drove into the body of water off Beach Boulevard. Robinson remained asleep until woken up by officers. Robinson was not charged or cited.
“How does he get home? How do you wind up in a retention pond and there’s really no explanation or enforcement activity that happened — and there probably should have been — so we’re going to take a look at that,” Williams said.
He said the review process should be quick, adding he hasn’t spoken to the officers who responded to the call yet.