New Task Force Plans to Combat Homicides with Ethical Behavior; the Group Will Offer Training on Building Character at Its Meetings

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSIE-LYNNE KERR

A task force of people who want to do what they can to help curb the high rate of homicides in Jacksonville is forming under the aegis of Character Counts!, a coalition of people, organizations and businesses that supports and advocates ethical behavior.

An organizational meeting of several dozen people was held Wednesday at City Hall where Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford cheered the effort.

"Violence - particularly murder - is not something you can arrest your way out of," Rutherford said. "Boys have to grow up to be nonviolent men."

Gail Keith, executive director of Character Counts! in Jacksonville, said her nonprofit organization strives to strengthen the character of all people, adults and children alike.

"Morals and standards have gone down a lot," Keith said. "We want to change people from within, change their morals and ethical values."

Ann Dugger, executive director of the Justice Coalition, said, "The key to a safer city is community involvement and this is a good move toward that."

Dugger recalled when citizenship was taught in public schools and students received citizenship grades on their report cards.

Keith said the task force plans to have monthly meetings to offer training on character-building.

"Character has to be talked about constantly," she said. …

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