Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Drug Activity, Vandalism Raise Fury in Mayport; Authorities Pledge Increase in Patrols

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Drug Activity, Vandalism Raise Fury in Mayport; Authorities Pledge Increase in Patrols

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher F. Aguilar, Shorelines staff writer

MAYPORT -- Officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office pledged this week to increase patrols in Mayport to curb drug activity on Ocean Street, the village's main street.

The sheriff's pledge came after officers met with members of the Mayport Waterfront Partnership, an organization composed of village residents, civic and business leaders who want to improve the aesthetics of the village and Mayport Road.

"What we know about out here from our experience is that there is and there always has been a drug problem," said sheriff's Sgt. Charles Shivers of the Zone Two Task Force, which covers the village, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach and Arlington. "[But] it's not something we get a lot of complaints about."

Shivers said officers from his task force and members of the narcotics units have gone into the village in the past year and made some drug-related arrests. The task force will target specific areas of town based on complaints from residents.

He said the village is a difficult area to work because the police cannot fly in with helicopters, and when officers drive into the village, drug dealers are tipped off about the officers' arrival.

Village resident Carroll Huffines complained about vandalism to several lights along Ocean Street businesses to hide drug activity.

He said the Waterfront Partnership helped create the vandalism problem because it had brighter streetlights installed. Those lights deter crime, so criminals vandalize them, he said.

"We created the problem because these are bright lights," he said.

A decorative streetlight across the street from a building the Mayport Civic Association and Waterfront Partnership use for their meetings was vandalized several times last year, leading some civic leaders to ask for the Sheriff's Office presence at their meeting this week. Vandalism to two other streetlights on Ocean Street were also mentioned as connected to drug activity.

The building also includes a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office stop station, which officers use while patrolling the village.

The decorative streetlight was one of 66 wrought iron historical-style lights installed last year during JEA's $1. …

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