A new initiative in Jacksonville will pair local pastors with law enforcement officers in an attempt to change the paths of some of the at-risk youth in the area.
Sheriff John Rutherford announced Operation Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement at a press conference Tuesday with eight area pastors who are part of the program.
Operation PIE will target members of the community who are 10 to 15 years old, Rutherford said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will work with pastors to identify about 50 at-risk youth and 50 prolific offenders who need to be guided in a new direction.
Rutherford said the prolific offenders are already involved in gangs and the at-risk youth are not.
He said the at-risk youth are the ones who will be recruited next to become gang members.
“We are going to identify individuals that are at-risk and who are prolific offenders and we have a criteria that we have developed to establish that,” Rutherford said.
He would not go into details of the criteria but gave an example that some of the at-risk youth might have witnessed serious crimes.
They went back to 2005 to validate their methods, Rutherford said.
Of the top 1,000 individuals who met the criteria in 2005, 96 are now in jail, 763 have been arrested and re-arrested, 127 are in prison and 14 are dead, Rutherford said.
“We cannot arrest our way out of a murder problem, a violence problem,” Rutherford said. “We have to start changing hearts.”
He said the third part of Operation PIE is the enforcement aspect of the program.
Operation Ceasefire II was implemented recently and takes patrol officers from safer areas and puts them in more violent sections of Jacksonville.
The pastors will be accompanied by patrol officers as they go into the homes and speak to families about violence in the community, Rutherford said.
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SOURCE: Jacksonville.com – Joe Daraskevich