Byline: MARY MARAGHY
Despite a seven-fold murder increase and recent high-profile crimes this summer in the Ortega area, statistics show that violent crime there and in nearby communities dropped almost 1 percent during the first half of the year.
In addition, total property crime dropped 2.3 percent and overall crime sank 2 percent in Zone 4, sector J, which includes Riverside, Avondale, Murray Hill and Ortega, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Zone 4 Assistant Chief Tom Hackney and his subordinates did not return telephone calls to discuss the various changes in crime, but he said in an e-mail, "We are very pleased that there is a decrease being shown, but we never rest and are constantly looking for new ways to combat the criminal element."
"The men and women of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office are all working toward the goal of reducing crime," he said in the e-mail. "The efforts of the Zone 4 officers is also geared toward making each and every resident in the Riverside area feel safe in their daily travels in Zone 4."
The decrease is shown when comparing the first six months of 2009 to the same period in 2008, based on the most recent preliminary statistics from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
"The numbers are surprising," said Kathi Bell, of the Ortega Forest Association, adding that crime seems more prevalent when things happen close to your home.
Meanwhile, Ortega Forest residents, she said, are considering chipping in to fund a $30,000 project to install surveillance cameras at the neighborhood's three entrances on Roosevelt Boulevard.
More than 800 Ortega-area residents packed a church in July to discuss two rapes and two armed robberies in the Ortega area. Since then, police charged four people in the robberies. …