Sheriff: Murray Hill violent crime up 1%; officer cuts partly to blame | News

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Sheriff: Murray Hill violent crime up 1%; officer cuts partly to blame

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Westside residents are speaking up about violence in their community. Monday night the residents gathered to hear from Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford.

"I lay in the bed every night and I hear gunshots," said Pamela Miller, a long-time resident on Remington Street.

Miller says in the last few years she's seen an increase in violence crime.

"I do not go outside after dark," said Miller.

That's the same case for Keely Kopp. She moved back to the Murray Hill area after going to college in Tallahassee and it's nothing like what she remembers.

"I remember when I was little I never really felt unsafe, but the house in our neighborhood got broken into around 11 in the day," said Kopp.

Kopp says she caught three teens peering into her car in the middle of the night, so she called police. She along with at least 100 others came to a meeting organized by the Southwest Citizens Planning Advisory Committee to get answers.

"I think we've taken our eye off the ball on fighting crime in this community; we did that when we cut 147 police positions and we cut all 92 community service officers," said Sheriff John Rutherford.

Sheriff Rutherford says budget cuts to his department are partly to blame for the spike in crime. Last October a Fat Kat nightclub security guard was shot inside the club. In November, four people were shot and killed in a home on Randolph Street. In mid-February, one person was killed and four were injured in a shooting inside the same Fat Kat nightclub off Edgewood Avenue.

"More policing is going to take more police. When we were at 1750 police officers and 92 CSOs [Community Service Officers] we had violent crime in this community going down in double digits," said Rutherford.

Sheriff Rutherford says police response times in the Murray Hill area for 2013 were at 9 minutes and 33 seconds, their target time is 7 minutes.

He says the city needs to have a discussion on what is happening at nightclubs after 2 a.m. and policies need to be reviewed to have officers inside the nightclub, but he says he can't do any of that without more officers.

Sheriff Rutherford says zone four which is the Murray Hill neighborhood, had 1,006 violent crimes in 2013 and $41,500 d went to overtime pay for officers in that area. Zone five, the Westside of Jacksonville, had the highest at 1,102 violent crimes and $45,000 were paid in overtime.

Rutherford is asking community members to get involved by joining the Sheriff's Advisory Council for their zone. To learn more, click here.


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