Programs and Initiatives
Partnerships to Combat Violent Crime
In an effort to better protect the community, the State Attorney’s Office regularly partners with law enforcement at the county, state, and federal levels to combat violent crime. One early dedicated effort has been against criminals who use guns in the crimes they commit.
In February 2017, State Attorney Melissa Nelson announced a partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida that will ensure appropriate referral and federal prosecution of criminals and drug dealers who use and possess firearms. Under this partnership, an ATF agent is housed on-site within the State Attorney’s Office to review all firearm cases for potential federal firearm charges, when appropriate. The on-site presence allows for greater intelligence sharing, ensuring armed career criminals face stricter federal minimum mandatory sentences.
Also in 2017, another effort among the City of Jacksonville, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and State Attorney’s Office was announced to combat gun crimes. The three advocated for the purchase of an Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) that provides quicker turnaround of ballistics analysis in firearms cases. Located within the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, casings from any crime scene can be readily uploaded to generate real-time leads and assist law enforcement in solving and preventing violent crime.
Building on that success, in 2019 the Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) opened in Duval County. Housed within the State Attorney’s Office, the interagency collaboration focuses on the immediate collection, management, and analysis of crime gun evidence and is used by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to generate real-time leads.
The State Attorney’s Office, City of Jacksonville, and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office also partnered to establish a blueprint for reducing gang violence in 2019. This long-term plan showcases initiatives currently underway and highlights others that should be considered to help curb violent crime. You can read the report here.
These are just a few examples of the partnerships the State Attorney’s Office will be a part of moving forward in an effort to keep the community safe.
Reforming Civil Citations
The use — and non-use — of civil citations for juveniles had been an issue among many in the community for some time.
Upon taking office, State Attorney Melissa Nelson and her team sought to reform the civil citation process by working with law enforcement partners in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties, court officials, and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
The result is a simpler process that removes the State Attorney’s Office from the administrative pipeline. It’s a change that creates a sensible expansion of offenses. And it’s an initative that restores trust and discretion of issuing citations with the group that deserves it: The law enforcement officials who interact with juvenile offenders on the front line.
These changes lead to collective optimism about the expanded use of civil citations for qualified juvenile offenders — a solution that offers them an alternative to entering the criminal justice system and saves taxpayer dollars.
A Focus on Human Rights
Florida’s geography and population unfortunately lend to being a hub of human trafficking and elder abuse — crimes that only continue to increase despite law enforcement’s best efforts.
The State Attorney’s Office for the Fourth Judicial Circuit seeks to directly counter that increase with the creation of a Human Rights Division within its Special Prosecution Unit.
A first in Florida, this division is modeled after the Department of Justice and is staffed with talented, dedicated attorneys and investigators who will concentrate on these difficult cases that victimize our community’s most vulnerable.
Additionally, this division will review hate crime and officer excessive force cases — two rare offenses that require dedicated attention given their sensitive nature.