JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has identified more than 30 street gangs, many embedded in working-class neighborhoods. Over the past 24 months the sheriff's office has ramped up its violence reduction strategy; it means working one gang member at a time
"We have one percent of the population committing 30 percent of the crime," said Pastor Billy Brock.
Seven months ago Pastor Billy Brock left his pulpit and joined JSO Assistant Chief T. K Waters and Pastor Garland Scott to walk the neighborhoods once a week.
"There's no immunity from this virus it is all over," he said, "the virus of violence."
They knock on known gang members door as part of JSO's violence reduction strategy. Each time they law down the law and offer these known members a chance to change their lifestyle.
"When I saw that I said 5-0 ain't never done this. It is a new animal and yes it is working," he said.
He says the street level gangs claim to be entertainment groups, but they're not
"We've got some success stories of guys that have come out," said Brock, "we've navigated them to a job."
He said as recently as last week they were able to convince another gang member to leave that lifestyle.
"We don't chase them," said Brock, "we offer them the hammer or the hope and they chose hope."
He said it takes a level of trust and providing job opportunities. He said each case is handled with sensitivity.
"We just did that within the week. There was one that we assisted in coming over; the confidentiality is critical I don't want to give you the exact thing," he said.
Brock would like to see more people get behind JSO on this effort, specifically churches and the community.
"People need to know that there are some strategies that are happening," said Brock.
In a recent interview, Assistant Chief TK Waters echoed the same sentiments.
"We cannot do this by ourselves," said Waters," it has to be a community effort."