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Jacksonville leaders discuss crime prevention after recent string of Northside shootings involving teens

JSO says the string of shootings that happened near First Coast High School was not gang related, but started as "beef" on social media.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The recent rash of shootings, many involving teens, prompted Jacksonville city leaders to gather Thursday night to hear from those living on the Northside and come up with solutions.

“We’ve got, unfortunately, a kid dead, a couple of people shot, a couple of houses shot, because we’re beefing over silly stuff," Mark Romano, Chief of Violence Reduction with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said. 

Romano released new details about the string of shootings that happened over the past couple of weeks on the Northside near First Coast High School.

“That’s not gang related," he explained. "That’s two groups of kids that are not getting along. And instead of pulling fists, now, they’re pulling guns. But, a little piece of what I’ll tell you is going on there is something got put out on social media before any of that stuff happened.”

He says no one called police or school leaders.

If someone had, Romano says, they could have tried to intervene before any triggers were pulled.

He and other community leaders believe breaking the code of silence is critical to reducing crime in the city.

However, crime prevention steps are also being taken by Duval County Public Schools and the Jacksonville City Council.

The school district’s Chief of Police Gregory Burton says his department is in the process of building a community engagement unit and demonstrating a new metal detector system for campuses that only detects weapons.

“Secondly, we have a proposal, made by one of my wonderful lieutenants, to get a drug dog and a weapons protection dogs in our schools," Burton added.

City Council President Sam Newby also pledged giving more than $180,000 left in his contingency fund to smaller local nonprofits focused on crime prevention.

Councilmember Reggie Gaffney is also pledging $150,000.

The total of more than $330,000 will be distributed with help from Jacksonville's Safety and Crime Commission. Newby says each nonprofit can receive up to $20,000 in funds.

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