An effort between the Jacksonville’s Sheriff’s Office and local hotels could help improve the safety of hotels and motels.
City Councilman Danny Becton is spearheading talks between JSO and hotel owners, amid growing safety concerns about the city’s Southside.
Among supporters of the initiative is the city’s marketing organization Visit Jacksonville. President Michael Corrigan said the safety of tourists is his number one priority.
“So it’s important when they do come it’s everything they expected it to be, without undue surprises,” he said. “We know that things can happen wherever you are, any city, but we want to try and make sure people who visit Jacksonville can have the best experience that they can have.”
Murder and violent crime is on the rise in Duval County, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s latest semi-annual report tracking Florida.
Some of the hotels and motels in the Baymeadows area have also seen a string of violent crime.
That’s what prompted Comfort Suites owner Jitan Kuverji to share his concerns with Becton about how the area’s negative image is hurting local businesses.
“It was from our conversation that we felt area stakeholders need to come together and work to identify initiatives that can be performed to improve the experience of visitors and the perception of crime within our area hotels in Baymeadows,” said the Southside city councilman. “We are looking forward to this being the first of what could be the start of many great things to come.”
He’s working on the plan as Baymeadows is seeing a surge in interest from developers.
“If we want to accomplish the revitalization and the transformation of the area that we’re looking to do, this can’t be overlooked,” he said.
Becton, who represents the area, said he’s also spent over 25 years as a business- and commercial real estate owner there. So curbing crime in the neighborhood is a personal priority.
“This is at the top of my list in order to sit down with JSO and have those discussions with their leadership,” he said.
Becton, JSO, and several others from the hotel industry, local and statewide; first came together in November.
From that initial meeting two separate groups formed: one that works with JSO on resources and priorities, and another dedicated to looking at best practices and programs across the country for safety in hotels and motels.
Becton said the goal of the initiative is making the process of reporting potential crime easier for hotel operators.
A similar JSO program that allowed hotel owners to share information about problems they had ended about 15 years ago, said Becton.