If violence is decreasing, the media furor seems overdone

There is a lot of talk about violence in Jacksonville but what is the cure?

It should be Cure Violence — a program taxpayers have spent more than $10 million on to date and which claims to be working.

The total dollar amount spent from fiscal years 2018-19 to 2022-23 was $10.5 million. The program got $1,176,665 funding for the next four months of the current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1.

In a presentation to the City Council the program operators claimed a reduction in violence in several areas of the city since the program’s inception.

Yet the local media indicates violence is exploding. Reporters often refer to “gun violence,” without explaining how inanimate objects such as guns can be violent. It is likely that whatever the level of violence, it can be attributed entirely to people, especially people in gangs, and that is precisely the type of violence Cure Violence is supposed to suppress.

The program aims to treat violence as a health problem and say they interrupt violence transmission, treat those at highest risk and change community norms by creating social pressure to stop violence.

Working with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Cure Violence designated “catchment areas” in the Eastside, Westside and Northside of the city.

During the time Cure Violence was in effect, crimes involving a gun were reduced in the Eastside and Westside but not on the Northside.

Another comparison was made within the six police zones. This was calculated by comparing the trend in the catchment area with the remainder of the zone. It showed similar results.

The charts don’t reveal the actual numbers, but they seem small. Based on the charts it might be 15 fewer shootings. That does not seem like a huge payoff for $10.5 million.

As of Oct. 9, the police reported 87 murders, 2 manslaughter cases and 8 justifiable homicides for a total of 97. For the full year of 2022, there were 165.

Cure Violence programs in other cities also have claimed success, but some studies don’t support the claims, according to Time magazine.

In general, crimes, calls for police service and arrests are decreasing, while the number of police officers and, of course, the costs are increasing.

It would be interesting to determine whether preventing crimes, holding criminals accountable, or simple demographics is the main driver of violence reduction. That is the type of research a local college might conduct. Unfortunately, local academics rarely look at issues that actually matter to Jacksonville residents.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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