Jacksonville Police Will Knock On 18,000 Doors In Northwest Jacksonville In An Attempt To Stop Gun-Related Crime!

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Derek.Gilliam@jacksonville.com  Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford talks about Operation Ceasefire, a crime reduction effort, on Tuesday outside a Sheriff's Office station on Myrtle Avenue. Gun-related crimes have been a big problem in northwest Jacksonville.

Derek.Gilliam@jacksonville.com Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford talks about Operation Ceasefire, a crime reduction effort, on Tuesday outside a Sheriff’s Office station on Myrtle Avenue. Gun-related crimes have been a big problem in northwest Jacksonville.

(Florida Times Tribune)The Sheriff’s Office will blanket crime-ridden neighborhoods, install surveillance cameras and knock on 18,000 doors in Northwest Jacksonville in an attempt to stop gun-related crime — which has spiked by 43 percent this year.

Sheriff John Rutherford, Mayor Alvin Brown and Councilwoman Denise Lee talked about the  crime reduction initiative code-named Operation Ceasefire on Tuesday afternoon outside a Sheriff’s Office station on Myrtle Avenue.

The Sheriff’s Office largely tied the sky-rocketing gun-related crime to drug dealing.

In April, there were 60 reported aggravated assaults or batteries where a gun was fired in the city. A majority of those shootings took place in police Zone 5, which is in Jacksonville’s northwest.

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Community outreach will be a large component of the initiative, Rutherford said, because it works. He said at the end of the operation officers will have knocked on 18,000 doors.

Already officers have knocked on about 4,000 doors, Rutherford said.

Rutherford said Operation Ceasefire began at the beginning of May and has already paid dividends. He said police have seized 381 grams of cocaine, 156 grams of marijuana and 10 illegally carried guns this month. The increase in enforcement has come at the cost of some of the office’s summer overtime money, which is budgeted because crime typically increases when school lets out.

Out of the 60 shootings in April, two have been cleared by arrest and four cases have been suspended. It appears that neither of the two arrests were made in Zone 5, according to a map supplied by the Sheriff’s Office.

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From Jan. 1 to the end of April, 58 people have been shot with seven arrests made. Twelve of the shootings are no longer being investigated. During the same time period in 2013, 38 people were shot, and police arrested seven people in those shootings. There has been an increase of 53 percent in the number of people shot since last year for that same time.

Rutherford lamented budget cuts that have decreased the number of sworn officers. He said the Sheriff’s Office clearance rate has suffered because of the decrease and that troubles him. The increase of officers in Zone 5 comes at a cost to other areas of the city, he said.

As Brown, Lee and several other council members stood by, Rutherford announced the Sheriff’s Office will seek funding for 40 additional police officers and 40 community service officers. The increase in the police force would cost about $3 million, according to statistics supplied by the Sheriff’s Office.

“This is a community issue, not just in one city council district, but all of the council districts,” Lee said. “The thugs and the non-law-abiding people have decided they can do what they want to when they want to ….”

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Lee said part of the solution is to put cameras in crime hot spots.

“We can take this community back, but it has to start here. It’s got to start today,” she said.

Rutherford said the cameras will be bought though money gained by forfeiture. He did not go into specifics about that part of the operation.

“We’re going to use the drug money we pull out of this neighborhood to protect this neighborhood,” he said.

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