Crime in downtown Jacksonville: perception worse than reality | News

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Crime in downtown Jacksonville: perception worse than reality
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - When people think of downtown Jacksonville, usually The Landing, the Jaguars and crime come to mind.  But according to Downtown Vision, Inc. and statistics from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, crime is not as prevalent in the area as people assume.

Downtown Vision, Inc. is now distributing its annual "Downtown Safety Paper." The flyer claims that crime downtown is 63 percent lower than in the rest of Jacksonville and Duval County.

Data from JSO supports that conclusion.  Of all the incidents in Jacksonville in 2011, just 2,030 happened in downtown Jacksonville.  Of those, only about 1400 were actual crimes.  Other incidents involved missing persons, found property or other non-criminal reports.

Jacksonville as a whole had 96,202 incidents in 2011.  About 70,000 of those were criminal. 

In order to compare these figures, officials at Downtown Vision divided the number of incidents by the population to determine "the number of criminal incidents per person."

"We have 3,000 residents that live downtown.  If we were to compare this, we would be off the charts," explained Terry Lorrince, Executive Director of Downtown Vision, Inc.  "So, we took an average of 51,000 people that work downtown as a good comparison of how we position downtown."

Using that formula, downtown has a rate of 0.03 crimes per person versus 0.08 crimes per person in Duval County as a whole. 

Lorrince said she believes those figures accurately represent the incidence of crimes and now her organization must work to change people's preconceived ideas about safety downtown. 

"Our challenge is to fill up these office buildings, fill up the storefronts and create a more vibrant downtown that's going to have more people on the sidewalks and eliminate that perception or minimize the perception that downtown is unsafe," said Lorrince.

According to JSO's "Downtown Vision Incident Summary," there were some "Top Addresses" where crime was reported more often.  They include The Jacksonville Landing (2 W. Independent Drive) with 120 incidents, the downtown Winn Dixie (777 N. Market Street) with 94 incidents and the JTA bus terminal (201 W. Union Street) with 82 incidents in 2011. 

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