Pastor nominated to chair new Jacksonville task force on crime

A group of four Jacksonville City Council members unanimously nominated Pastor Mark Griffin to lead the city's new Task Force on Safety and Crime Reduction.

“We have to do something. We have to take action,” said Griffin.

Griffin is pastor of Wayman Ministries, board chair of Wayman Academy of the Arts and board chair of Wayman Community Development Corp.

Griffin unsuccessfully ran for the Florida House of Representatives in 2016.

Action News Jax asked Griffin why he thinks someone without a background in law enforcement is the right person for the position.

Story: City Council President to establish task force on safety, crime prevention

“I think I have the ability to bring together law enforcement, elected officials, definitely the church and clergy community and a lot of communities where we’re having all these problems,” said Griffin.

Griffin said change has to come from within troubled communities by empowering what he calls champions.

“We have to find someone in the community, whether it be a minister, a nonprofit organization - it may be somebody’s grandmother -- but somebody in that community who that community really trusts,” said Griffin.

Griffin said it’s an approach that’s worked at Eureka Gardens, which is near one of his church campuses.

He said he wants to replicate that approach in high-crime neighborhoods all over the city.

“I’ve spoken with gang leaders to really get an understanding of what they’re dealing with. And what we’re having in a lot of our neighborhoods, quite frankly, is a sense of hopelessness,” said Griffin.

Griffin will need to be approved by the full council to become chair of the task force.

Three other finalists for the chair position were Action News Jax law and safety expert Dale Carson, Betty Burney and Frank Denton.

The city is still accepting applications for membership on the task force through Friday.