FDLE: Crime down across Florida, Duval deadlier than any other large county

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Less people are committing crimes across the state of Florida.

According to the latest data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, this is the 50th consecutive year the Sunshine State has seen a downward trend in crime.

Action News Jax Courtney Cole took a closer look at the local numbers and discovered Duval County is significantly different than some of our other counties in one category: murder.

Cole and the Action News Jax team did the math and learned Duval County has more murders, per 100,000 people, than any other large county in Florida.

It’s taking a toll on communities throughout Jacksonville.

Cole spoke to Melissa Jackson, a local mother whose son would have been 21-years-old on Father’s Day, this year. Corbin Johnson went missing in 2018 and his body was found exactly one year later.

“I can say it’s been good days and bad days, especially leading up to his birthday. It was rough planning his birthday,” Jackson told Action News Jax Courtney Cole.

Cole first brought you this story in July 2018, when Jackson said he went missing.

“CJ was very shy,” Jackson laughed as she thought fondly of her baby boy and continued to describe him to Cole. “He was spoiled...The baby, my baby boy of three sons. Very loving, very funny.”

JSO found his skeletal remains in July 2019 off Utsey Road.

“The only thing that I had of him was his remains. It was the only thing that was left of him...was his bones in his shoes. It is a hard thing for any mother to endure,” Jackson said.

Action News Jax looked at every Florida county that has a population of at least 100,000.

We found there’s roughly 14 murders per every 100,000 people in Duval County.

The next closest county was Escambia, that’s where Pensacola is located. Its murder rate was around 10 murders for every 100,000 people.

Next was Leon County, which includes Tallahassee.

It ranked just slightly lower than 10 murders per every 100,000 people.

Jackson said she’s grateful to have a support system that really helped make coping, easier.

“My relationship with God is the only thing that makes me get up in the morning. He gives me the strength to get up in the morning,” Jackson said.

Jackson also told Cole her church, Impact Church, has played a vital and supportive role in her journey.

Unfortunately, Jackson’s pain has become all too commonplace for many others in Duval County.

According to the latest data from the FDLE Annual Uniform Crime Report, the number of murders committed are up in Duval County from 131 in 2019 to 143 in 2020.

Right now, we’re about half-way through 2021 and there are 51 murders in Duval, according to the JSO Transparency Page.

“They haven’t arrested anyone. They have had several leads and I can say that they have definitely kept in contact with me, they definitely, the detectives that are on CJ’s case, they are awesome,” Jackson said.

Cole reached out to JSO to see if they’d be open to talking about what they are doing day-to-day to try and keep crime numbers down, but she’s still waiting to hear back.

“Just my baby, six my heart, my heart string. He had my heart strings,” said Jackson.

Ms. Jackson has created a non-profit called Mother Mary’s to help provide support and a safe space for other mothers who have lost their sons.

‘Mary’ stands for Mothers Are Raising Your Sons.