News

New numbers show crime is down in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- New numbers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show crime is going down in Duval County.

The Uniform Crime Report looked at crime in the first 6 months of 2013, and compared to the first 6 months of 2012.

In Jacksonville, the report showed a 15 percent decrease in murders, and a little more than a 6 percent decrease in aggravated assaults. 

Overall, violent crimes are down 1 percent. The number of rape victims are up, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said that's in part because of a re-classification.

Business owners in Jacksonville are hoping the general downward trend in crime could change the way some think about the city when it comes to crime.

"Every little bit helps," said Pat Middleton. He's been selling houses in Jacksonville for more than 30 years.

Middleton said his clients ask him about being safe in Jacksonville.

Man robbed, shot in Springfield overnight

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office responded to an armed robbery that sent one to the hospital early Tuesday morning.

The victim was walking home from a grocery store when he was approached in the 100 block of East 8th Street by an armed suspect, according to JSO.

The suspect allegedly demanded money from the victim and then shot the victim twice. The victim was struck in his side and in his leg.

The suspect allegedly took the victims car keys and fled the scene.

Police are looking for a white 1998 Ford Mustang with Florida tag L751T.

The victim is currently in non-life-threatening condition at an area hospital and the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone who has any information about this unknown robbery suspect is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500.

To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

City council to vote on backyard chickens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- People in Jacksonville might soon be able to legally keep chickens in their backyard.

City council members are expected to vote Tuesday evening on a proposed pilot program.

A number of people within city limits already keep chickens cooped in their backyard.

And while it is against the city's current zoning code for residential areas, chicken owners tell First Coast News that the code is rarely enforced.

Genora Crain-Orth is a member of Hens in Jax, a pro-backyard chicken group that's been advocating for the pilot program.

She said a lot of times neighbors will look the other way if they know someone with chickens in a backyard coop.

"They'll have a really good understanding in some cases," Crain-Orth said.

But under the proposed program, people would no longer have to keep their chickens a secret.

If approved, 300 Jacksonville families would have to pass an agriculture class and buy a $25 permit.

Backyard chicken pilot program in the works

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's been years in the making, soon urban chicken enthusiasts may be able to keep hens in their backyards.

A new proposed law has already cleared one hurdle, being passed by the land use and zoning committee. Next up is the city council.

After being cited back in 2011, Lauren Trad was forced to get rid of the hens she kept in her backyard. For the past three years, the Jacksonville mother has made it her personal mission to be able to fill back up her coop.

At her family garden center on San Jose Boulevard, Trad is allowed to keep her hens because they were grand-fathered in. But at home where she would like to be closer to her feathered friends, it's currently banned.

"I just don't think we should be introducing farm animals into residential neighborhoods," said Councilman Robin Lumb.

FCN Investigates: What exactly are you paying for at the pump?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We are just weeks from the busy Thanksgiving travel season.

But, before you fill up for your trip the On Your Side team has three things you'll want to know before you hit the road. It's part of a First Coast News investigation.

At the gas station, every cent counts.

"I get pretty much what my car gives me," said Michael Bryce, as he filled up the car. "I get around $20 half a tank, $40 for a full tank, $5 for an eighth of a tank."

If you feel like something just isn't right, you might be on to something.

It is Anthony Davis' job to find out

He's one of the petroleum inspectors with the Florida Department of Agriculture.

"We want to make sure that consumers are getting what they're paying for," Davis said.

FCN's David Williams joined him at the Chevron station on New Kings Road for an inspection. Inspections are done at least every 12-14 months, says Davis.

Top 5 hottest jobs and how you can land one

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Are you looking for work? If you are, keep the following story handy.

Like many people, 37-year-old Ty Harris of Jacksonville, has been looking for work.

"Off an on for about a year," Harris explained.

He's been doing freelance work in client and project management, but is looking for something more permanent, which is why he came to a job fair Monday.

He said the job market is tough, which makes it harder to help his family of two children.

"I've gotten a lot of 'You're over qualified,'" Harris said of his year-long job search.

FCN's David Williams asked Harris "What if we told you, we know what the top 5 most in-demand jobs are in Jacksonville?"

To that, Harris responded "I would be impressed and I would inquire what would that be?"

Mayor, officials' London trip costs taxpayers nearly $20,000 so far

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A First Coast News investigation shows the City of Jacksonville has spent nearly $20,000 on a week-long trip to Europe.

The investigation has also revealed that the cost will go up even higher once receipts from the trip are processed.

Right now, Mayor Alvin Brown, City Council President Bill Gulliford and Economic Development Chief Ted Carter are in London, England.

They are spending the week attending business meetings set up in part by Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

The game plan is to try and bring new, international business to the River City.

First Coast News has confirmed there are more than 20 different companies the city is meeting with. One of them is Deutsche Bank.

Leaders will also be attending the Jaguars game in London against the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

First Coast News obtained multiple pages of travel documents from the city to conduct its investigation.