Citizens Seek to Ease the Tension With Local Police

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BCC Criminal justice Professor Randy Nelson, Ben Frazier (Northside Coalition of Jax) and Professor Dr. Kideste

 Community representatives, business owners, religious leaders and , the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Zone 1 leadership recently met with the purpose of continuing to develop a Community Engagement Action Plan for the Eastside community.

The meeting was the fourth in series of scheduled community gatherings. Pastor Randy Sewell of Solid Rock Baptist church provided the use of his church to host the session.  Attendee’s huddled in groups to discuss the current climate between police and citizens.

According to reports from the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, “There were 126 murders in Jacksonville in 2018, which was lower than the 137 in 2017 but higher than the eight years before that. While cities like Miami had more total killings, Jacksonville has the highest murder rate per capita of any large city in Florida.”  The report goes on the say, “There is broad consensus on why this is happening, but disagreement over whether it can be fixed.”

The initiative is being facilitated by Bethune Cookman-University (BCU) Criminal Justice professors Dr. Randy Nelson and Dr. Kideste Yusef, The instructors engage participates in real life scenarios to provide context to the split second decision making process of law enforcement. The training is designed to identify and examine past and present factors that may contribute to negative feelings or attitudes some individuals and communities may have toward law enforcement.

This month, participants were paired in groups with officers to introduce various strategies to increase safety and security of their community and simultaneously build positive relationships with local police.

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