JACKSONVILLE, Fla — New numbers just released by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office show a 23% decline in the city's murder rate last year compared to 2020, and the homicide clearance rate jumped to 78% in 2021 from 43% the year before.
“This is what we have been wanting to see,” Sheriff Mike Williams said. “This is not a victory lap, but in 2021 we had some success. And so, we think it's a good trend, and we want to continue on that.”
With less than a year and a half left in his term, Sheriff Williams says tackling violent crime in Jacksonville remains his top priority. According to data from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in 2021 there was a 26% decline in homicides compared to 2020, there were 108 murders, down from 140 in 2020 and gunfire related incidents dropped by 20.5%.
The sheriff says his department is focusing on a small number of people in the community driving a significant portion of the violence.
“Less than one half of 1% of our population, driving about 60 to 70% of the violence. Think about that. That's a significant impact for such a small group of people,” Sheriff Williams said. “So that's where us and the community, and the State Attorney's Office and all of our federal partners and state partners, the mayor's office, again, with Cure violence, all of us working together, are starting to have an impact.”
The biggest public safety threat facing Jacksonville right now according to Sheriff Williams is the drug trade.
“I think like most large communities, so we're not unique in this, in my opinion, the biggest public safety threat is narcotics and the narcotics trade. And the reason I say that is because that's where the gang violence ties in. That's where the gun violence ties in,” Sheriff Williams said. “It's an issue that we’ve focused on for a long time.”
It's something he says his department will continue to work on along with building relationships with the community.
“It’s always constantly a work in progress, but it's good, in my opinion. Those crime numbers are evidence of that. So, I tell people a lot these phones down here ring every day, with people in the community, you know, giving us information, sharing information with us. Our Sheriff's Watch meetings are well attended, so we've got a high level of active partnership with the community.”
As for what he plans to do when his term as sheriff ends in 2023, he says he doesn’t know yet but will not run for office.
“Right now, clearly I’m focused on the day to day work here and really seeing this positive trend continue in 2022.”