By Francine Frazier, News4Jax
The city of Jacksonville once again reached the 100-murder mark last week, and faith leaders are calling for action from city leaders to curb the violence.
“Over 80% of the victims are African American. Around half of them will never live to see their 30th birthday. This is a horrific tragedy for our community,” ICARE said in a news release.
ICARE is the Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation & Empowerment.
Pointing to success stories in Boston, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Miami, ICARE is asking Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters to contract with the National Network for Safe Communities to bring them back to the city.
ICARE board member Geneva Pittman said what’s being done now to stop the gun violence is not working.
“Jacksonville is known as the murder capital of the state of Florida. That’s awful. That’s not a good title. You know, we need to do something,” Pittman said.
ICARE touted the success of an approach called Group Violence Intervention, which brings together local and federal law enforcement, city government, social services, nonprofits and community leaders to deliver a clear message that the shooting must stop.
“They come in and they train and get the police to work together and make a difference in our communities because we can’t continue with the violence every day, two or three people are being killed,” Pittman said.
“While the Group Violence Intervention approach was introduced to Jacksonville as far back as 2016, a lack of key community partnerships has caused the program to falter,” ICARE said.
ICARE hopes the National Network for Safe Communities will provide a professional assessment of the community’s program and help improve its approach.
Hours before the assembly, JSO said a man between 20 to 30 years old was killed in Valencia Way Apartments, making the second deadly shooting at the complex in less than a week.
According to News4JAX records, over 345 people were shot in 2023 and 52 people were shot in October.
We reached out to the sheriff’s office for comment on what was discussed. This was the statement we received from them:
Sheriff Waters has met with members of ICARE multiple times amplifying in detail the programs the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has initiated and continues to manage. Operation Safe Passage which has been integrated and is housed within our Violence Reduction Section has existed for several years. It has been enormously successful, and the JSO has become the model for other law enforcement agencies and other social services. Sheriff Waters was the architect and oversaw the creation of the program which focused on providing groups and gang involved individuals with appropriate support services so that they can transition away from street violence. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the National Network for Safe Communities for several years and still maintains a close relationship with them.
View the original story here.