Some Jacksonville Beach neighbors say they’re leaving, or considering leaving after a violent summer.
“I’m definitely leaving Jacksonville Beach because of the violent activities that have happened in the past year or so that I’ve been here,” said Elexis Anderson.
Others consider the violence a product of the of the stifling Florida heat, or prevalence of firearms.
No matter the cause, native Tom Myers wants it to end.
“You’re not just ruining somebody else’s life, you’re ruining a whole family’s life,” said Myers.
Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham says beach visitors commit most of the crimes in the area. He described Jacksonville Beach as Duval County’s playground.
Latham visited Bill Eierman, the JBPD officer shot in the line of duty Thursday night.
He tells us Eierman was in good spirits, and described him as "'strong,’ ‘courageous,'" and someone he was glad to know.
Eierman is a 16-year veteran of JBPD.
Latham says the 68 officers in their police force are more than enough to police beach neighborhoods.
However, he tells us the department may be overburdened at times by the actions of visitors.
“Our police force is equipped to handle our residents but we end up handling more than that,” said Latham.
He tells Action News Jax the city has taken steps to improve their response time and presence, including doubling the amount of officers who patrol downtown, and maintaining positive relationships and communication with other local law enforcement.
In wake of one of their own being shot, he praised the department, and those willing to sacrifice everything to save others.
“To me that’s the greatest expression of love and courage I can think of,” said Latham.
Latham described the police force as the best in the state, but admits some things are beyond their control.
“You can’t legislate behavior, you can’t legislate free will,” said Latham.
“Just part of human nature sometimes, you know? It sucks,” he said.
In a message to the community, Latham urged Jacksonville Beach to maintain faith and confidence in their police —- a group whose effort he praised in the face of danger.
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