JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An effort to stop violence in crime-prone areas appears to be working, according to the Cure Violence community group.
The group's organizers said they've gone weeks without shootings in local neighborhoods they've targeted.
Damian Cook is the director of the local group. He said the group was able to see these short-term results.
Since the beginning of June, organizers for Cure Violence said their volunteers have been boots on the ground in areas with high crime.
Efforts started with promoting peace in these communities while also developing relationships with people who are considered at risk for violence.
The challenge now is to keep crime out and expand their efforts.
"We've seen some short-term indicators that are showing real positive success which is what we expected, what we'd hoped for," Cook said.
Cook shared a map of the areas the group decided to focus on. It includes many northwest Jacksonville neighborhoods. Even Mayor Lenny Curry acknowledged the work they are doing.
"Twenty-five days in a row without a shooting or killing is a small step," Curry said.
So far, Cure Violence volunteers have spent more than 2,600 hours in the community conducting mediations and trying to develop relationships with people who are considered at risk for violence.
Cook said there are many variations of who's considered at risk for violence.
"A combination of a couple different factors. One, between the ages of 15 and 30, someone who is perhaps a weapons carrier, someone who may have been involved in street activity. Also someone who has been a victim of crime and anyone recently released from prison," John Cartel is a chef in the area.
He grew up in Moncrief and said he can tell the difference in the amount of crime.
"It hasn't been as much shootings. The police activity is more present," Cartel said.
Despite the group's success, Action News Jax found multiple shootings in other areas nearby, including three teens who were shot.
Cure Violence leaders said it does not have the manpower to be in those areas just yet but it plans to be in the future.
"We haven't forgotten about those. We're watching them. !e will look at what the data says. Then we will work with the cure violence global folks to develop a strategy," Cook said.
Cook said the group chose the specific area it's targeting because when they looked at the violent shootings it was one of the areas that needed the most help.
The organizers made it clear that they are not affiliated with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
It is an outside organization.
JSO uses different resources, including its crime gun intelligence center which also helps to crack down on crime.
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