Nearly a month after launching “Operation Ceasefire” in Northwest Jacksonville, Sheriff John Rutherford continued his door-to-door approach with the community to help deter crime.
Tuesday night, he targeted a different community, spending a few hours on the Southside as part of his Neighborhood Crime Prevention Walk.
Rutherford said the city budget has left him 147 officers short, so these neighborhood walks are critical for officers to stay visible and vigilant.
For one local woman, the walk was also an opportunity to bring attention to her friend's murder case. It's one of many in Jacksonville that remain unsolved.
Rutherford asks residents on the walk if there's anything the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office can do for them or if there are any problems they'd like to report.
They're simple questions meant to bring answers to pressing questions for homeowners, like Don Stuart.
“Things like parking and people visiting those people who are parking for short periods, so it makes you think that some kind of transaction is going on,” Stuart said.
Rutherford weaved from street to street in the Sutton Lakes neighborhood with handshakes and police help in tow. It was a similar boots-on-the-ground approach that Rutherford used in Northwest Jacksonville in May, when he launched “Operation Ceasefire” to encourage the public to speak up about unsolved, gun-related crimes.
“We’ve been cut 147 police officers, all 92 community service officers so the public being the eyes and ears for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office becomes very important,” Rutherford said.
Those eyes and ears are what Susan Singer is relying on. Her 22-year-old friend, Amber Bass, was gunned down in the driveway of her own home 11 months ago. Determined to keep the case from going cold, Singer is a familiar face on the Sheriff's neighborhood walks.
“We feel like every single time we can get Amber’s story out and see Amber’s face and maybe they know something and maybe they’ll talk,” Singer said.
It's cases like Amber's that Rutherford said the community can be a part of solving, and he encourages the community to step up.
“Get involved with JSO, let us help you,” Rutherford said. “Keep your community safe.”
In another effort to combat crime in the city, JSO is hosting a gun buyback event June 28 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the North Jacksonville Baptist Church on Main Street. Participants can receive $50 for any unwanted gun.