The Limitations of Law Enforcement

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Hallett

As Mayor John Peyton said, the stakes of the conversation we're having about violence are long term for this city. I don't think that's an overstatement.

For the past eight years, Duval County has led the state in murder rate.

But as you may not know, for almost all of the past 20 years, we've also led the state in violent index crime. That means we led the state by rate in crimes of violence that do not result in death (aggravated battery, assault, rape, attempted murder).

In other words, we have a violence problem, not just a murder problem.

The Sheriff's Office recently realized that even it had been underreporting violent index crime in its annual data. But even using the old numbers, Jacksonville violence has been high for generations.

And the roots of this problem lie beyond the sphere of influence of even the best police department.

This problem requires us to build our assets for crime fighting beyond what law enforcement can provide. And that is why we are here.

Suppressing the murder rate through saturation law enforcement is neither the best long-term strategy for reducing violence, nor is it, arguably, the most preferable.

Sheriff John Rutherford made two important points to the Steering Committee of the Jacksonville Journey, one of which was sort of a footnote, and the other a major emphasis.

The footnote point was that Jacksonville's millage rate is the second lowest in the state, but still again 18 percent lower than its closest peer. …