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Sheriff Mike Williams
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 9, 201612:00 PM EST

Sheriff seeking outside support to help find long-term solution to crime problem

by: David Chapman

Sheriff Mike Williams has short-term help through extra overtime funds when it comes to combating Jacksonville’s crime problem.

It’s the long view he’s working on now, an effort he said will be helped through a $180,000 partnership with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The college is part of the City University of New York and has a dozen centers that focus on elements of crime.

They include a National Network for Safe Communities, a Center on Race, Crime and Justice and a Center on Terrorism.

Williams called it a “foundation of a long-term solution” when pitching for the funding to the mayor’s budget review committee, which signed off on the money and will forward the request to City Council.

The $180,000 will come through asset forfeiture money from drug cases and will provide funding for a year in the John Jay program.

The benefit is threefold, the sheriff said.

It gets the Jacksonville “a seat at the table” with other cities in the program in the partnership.

Doing so taps into their crime-related data and can help determine what cities are facing and what they’re doing that’s working and not.

It also allows the John Jay College program to act as another set of eyes on the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office’s own data.

Williams said the program is noted for helping cities in their community outreach efforts on crime.

The money also covers travel for sheriff’s office personnel for program-related trips to other cities. Members of the program and other cities also are expected to come to Jacksonville for a firsthand examination.

Williams said the long-term look will complement the $1.5 million that Mayor Lenny Curry is targeting for overtime, $500,000 of which was approved by the committee Monday.

Those overtime dollars mean more police presence in neighborhoods where needed, Williams said, and also helps a violent crime task force he’s put together.

Those teams consist of personnel from narcotics, homicide, gang units and others that will operate seven days a week and handle cases from the crime scene to the courthouse, Williams said.

He said the John Jay College program is expected to be up and running in plenty of time for the summer months — a time when crime numbers often rise.

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