By Atyia Collins, First Coast News

Tuesday morning, a community group held a call to action to outline a crime reduction plan that they believe would reduce violent murders in Jacksonville.

Leaders with ICARE, the Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation & Empowerment, say the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office needs to reassess and bring more partnerships into current Group Violence Intervention (GVI) programs, which they believe are not working.

The programs bring together law enforcement, social services and community groups to offer services to people who have fallen into a life of crime.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office introduced GVI programs to Jacksonville in 2016, but since then, ICARE leaders point out that murders have averaged around 120 per year from 2016 to 2022.

ICARE says GVIs have worked to reduce crime in other cities and believe better partnerships and awareness could make Jacksonville’s GVIs successful.

“It’s everyone coming to the table to work on this together and not just like one little piece… it’s that coming together that creates the reduction in the violence in other cities,” Rev. Adam Gray, Riverside Church, said.

Just last week, JSO hosted this year’s Group Violence Intervention Conference in conjunction with the National Network for Safe Communities. During the three-day event, community organizations and members were able to learn about the intervention techniques and strategies.

JSO leaders say the Sheriff continues the work through current Group Violence Intervention Programs. They also point out that murders are down 19% from this time last year.

ICARE leaders however believe the program isn’t working, and they wants JSO to contract with the National Network for Safe Communities for an assessment on how to make the program better.

“We’re not asking the sheriff to take our word for it. We believe that this approach works when it’s implemented fully and we want the national network to evaluate what that looks like,” Rev. Adam Gray, Riverside Church, said.

JSO leaders did not have an answer at this time on whether or not the Sheriff would consider a reassessment from the National Network, which ICARE leaders say would cost between $30,000-80,000.

View the original story here.