By Annette Gutierrez, Action News Jax

Sheriff TK Waters met with faith leaders at ICARE’s 25th Nehemiah Assembly at Abyssinian Missionary Baptist church. The event addressed concerns related to violence and crime in the city. And the Sheriff had plenty to say about the issues that were raised.

ICARE stands for – Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment.

Every year – since 1998 – ICARE host this event to address the top issues and injustices that Jacksonville faces.

ICARE raised three points of concern in tonight’s event:

  1. mental health calls
  2. group violence intervention
  3. adult civil citations

In the beginning, the leaders opened up with remarks exclaiming to the audience “Who cares?” To which everyone responded with “I care.”

“This assembly is a culmination of months of work where we’ve listened to the community, identified and prioritized issues that are important to the community, done research on what those solutions are,” the co-president of ICARE, Father Keith Oglesby said.

Oglesby says when it comes to mental health, he wants officers to have more de-escalation training to identify when someone needs a crisis center instead of jail. Sheriff Waters says he is looking into this and agreed to the 9-8-8 suicide and crisis hotline.

But when it came to the group violence intervention topic, Sheriff Waters stood firm. The ICARE leaders asked if he would implement GVI through the National Network for Safe Communities’ Organizations. And he repeatedly disagreed with this program – insisting JSO was working on their own version.

“[For the] fourth time, that’s all being done,” Sheriff Waters said. “I want the shootings to stop also.”

And regarding the Adult Civil Citations, the organization explained why they’re in favor of a lesser punishment for what they consider minor offenses.

“If it’s a relatively minor offense, instead of being arrested, you receive a citation,” Oglesby said. “You’re held accountable, but you don’t have that on your record.”

But Sheriff Waters insisted that adults who break the law need to be held accountable.

“I don’t believe in decriminalization,” Sheriff Waters said. “I believe we should hold the standards of adults.”

Whether the ICARE team and the Sheriff agree on matters, the goal of today was to have a conversation. And this was accomplished.

View the original story here.