Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams addressed a Jacksonville City Council committee Monday — but the big news is that he is just weeks away from launching his re-election campaign.
“We’ll announce that here in the next couple of weeks,” Williams told Florida Politics. “I think we have a lot of work to do and I’m excited.”
Williams’ political committee, “A Safe Jacksonville,” had $105,000 on hand at the end of September, and raised roughly $30,000 more in October.
Williams took questions from the Jacksonville City Council Neighborhoods Committee, and those councilors’ queries and his answers spoke to the scope of that work that is to be done.
Williams was asked to address the recent homicide rate, in light of high-profile reportage on killings in Jacksonville streets.
“As of Friday, we were even year to date in homicide,” Williams noted, describing “ebbs and flows” month over month in the homicide rates.
So much of the killing, Williams said, is fueled by “gangs, guns and drugs” — and the money trafficking in contraband offers.
“Less than 1 percent of the population is driving close to 40 percent of violence,” Williams said, describing a population “victimizing each other over and over.”
“We’re doing a lot of work … to diffuse those things” so they don’t “explode,” Williams added, noting that “respect issues” (such as altercations in nightclubs) fuel subsequent shootings.
Williams also addressed the city’s ShotSpotter program, saying that it has been successful within its first 90 days of deployment in a small, but violence-plagued, area of the city.
“It definitely has been effective for 90 days,” Williams said, noting that eight arrests have come out of 39 incidents caught by the program.
The precision of ShotSpotter allows JSO to find shell casings used in shootings, which the city can cross-reference via the NIBIN database.
Technology, Williams told the committee, can be a force multiplier — as seen in Lower Manhattan, where these systems are used in accordance with cameras.
“Camera systems is a topic we need to talk more about … in public places,” Williams said. “We actually in NY saw two drive-bys that had happened in a previous week … actually captured the entire event … from multiple angles.”
We asked Williams about civil liberties concerns from camera deployment, and he said that “entertainment districts” were more likely places to put the cameras than neighborhoods.
“I see that concern and I understand that … I would be a proponent of cameras in a public venue — an entertainment district or something like that,” Williams said.
“It’s a little more challenging to sell a fixed-post camera in a neighborhood,” Williams added.