As leaders in our community, you have devoted a great deal to making Jacksonville a place where business and culture thrive, families prosper and children grow up with every chance of success. Countless others throughout our city have joined in those efforts.
Today, an epidemic of violent crime threatens to undo all that good work, to tear down the edifice of civil society, and to make our city the antithesis of our hopes and dreams.
There have been a record number of homicides in Jacksonville this year; and one in every ten has claimed the life of a child. Many of the other victims have been young men. We are burying the very lifeblood of our community: our children, our nieces and nephews, our brothers, sisters, fathers and sons.
Today, I'm asking you to join me in drawing a line; in saying 'no more,' and in fixing the problem, rather than the blame. It won't be easy, and it won't happen soon. It's a journey of a thousand miles, but we have to stop talking and start walking.
We are already working to address the law enforcement side of the equation, and we will do more in that regard. But funding police, prosecutors and prisons will not stem the tide of violent crime. We need to address it where it begins, and we know from dozens of studies – including the JCCI Murder Study and the Juvenile Justice Comprehensive Strategy – that we also need to put intensive focus on prevention, targeted intervention and rehabilitation.
Based on the recommendations of those studies, and of experts in these areas, I have prepared a roadmap to guide our initial efforts. Your commitment begins today. I am asking you to devote the next 120 days to:
- Establishing and enforcing the timeframes of subcommittee initiatives along with identifying resources required to ensure accountability.
- Presenting status reports to the public on subcommittee initiatives and holding the associated organizations accountable for their action or inaction.
- Assisting with implementation as needed. Some goals are immediately achievable and some will take years, but your knowledge and commitment can help to make the difference. Lobby your contacts and press your own organizations for action.
- Finally, I am asking you to work with the funding subcommittee to create a long-term funding plan to support these initiatives. Government cannot fix the problem, and even if it could, the funding does not exist. But we cannot let the lack of funds be an excuse for inaction. I'm asking you to set a goal for fundraising in the next six months and appeal to the entire community. Violent crime is our problem, and we must all be part of the solution.
For more information on The Jacksonville Journey, call (904) 630-CITY or click on the links to the left.