Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Westside Crime Drops for First Time in 5 Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Westside Crime Drops for First Time in 5 Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Times-Union staff writer

For the first time in five years, crime on the Westside dropped slightly, with the area's police chief attributing the decline to a new computerized tracking system.

The number of crimes reported in Zone 4's nine subsectors decreased from 11,876 in 2003 to 11,788 in 2004, or 0.7 percent, according to figures recently released by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Zone 4 covers an area bounded by the St. Johns River on the east, Interstate 10 on the north, Clay County line on the south and Baker County line on the west.

Crime was down in rape, other forcible sex, robbery, larceny, vehicle theft and arson categories. It was up in murder, aggravated assault and burglary.

Assistant Chief Mark Richardson said Sheriff John Rutherford launched a computerized mapping program last year that pinpoints crime hot spots. Analysts sift through police incident reports and mark the data on maps to determine crime trends. Zone commanders meet every two weeks to discuss problem areas.

"We talk about the patterns, what we're doing about them and get assistance to attack various crimes," Richardson said. "We create deployments to try and catch them during the times and days they're committing their crimes, and we study their modus operandi."

As a result, he said, robbery detectives arrested several suspects for multiple offenses. Officer Mike Rounsville led another operation in the Five Points and Fuller Warren Bridge area that netted 13 arrests and the closing of 11 transient areas, Richardson said.

"We had a lot of officers that felt a certain responsibility in the area and took pride in doing everything they could to clean it up," he said.

Conversely, he said, burglaries went up in a high-growth area west of Interstate 295 near Shindler and Chaffee roads because of the amount of construction and number of new residents. …

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