Jacksonville police work to keep crowds safe from potential threats

By: Danielle Avitable , Action News Jax

Updated:

A Jaguar preseason game and a concert with country singer Jason Aldean had people filling the streets of downtown Jacksonville on Thursday night.

But with two car attacks this week -- in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in Barcelona, Spain -- people said safety is their number one concern right now.

"Society today, it's not right, you just never know," concert goer, Kayla Hamilton said.

In Virginia, a man plowed his car through a group of people protesting a white supremacy rally, killing one person and injuring 19 others.

And Thursday in a popular tourist spot in Barcelona, police said a terrorist drove through a crowd of people killing at least 13 and injuring more than 100.

In downtown Jacksonville, dozens of officers were patrolling the streets.

"It's scary, but the way they got everything set up and the roads blocked off I think it keeps it from happening here," concert goer, Kathryn Bain said.

"We’re Americans, we are not going to let hatred limit our way of life," former United Nations Ambassador Nancy Soderberg said.

Soderberg said something to this effect could happen in Jacksonville.

"I think that our mayor and our police force are looking through the procedures rightly so of how to make sure it doesn't happen here," Soderberg said.

Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson said venues like this are soft targets because people aren’t prepared for it.

"There are many people there, and in a fairly unsophisticated way, it's not just the people who are injured, it's an effort to destabilize the way people live," Carson said.

And he said awareness is key. 

"There's no protection really here, there's no law enforcement or barriers. If you're walking in the street you have no defense," Carson said.

Carson said the best thing to do is to run and hide.

"Being over here in this area behind something sturdy like this is the best protection that's available for you," Carson said.

Soderberg said it’s up to our country’s leaders to take a stand against attackers.

Action News Jax reached out to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office about security measures in place and was given this response:

“Every event is assessed prior and continually throughout and proper staffing levels are determined based on that assessment. We do not discuss staffing or security prior to any event for security purposes. There will be a visible police presence at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena and EverBank Field.”

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