Chief Says Possible Ordinance Changes Could Remedy Prairie Street Incidents Going Forward

By Jeremy Coumbes on November 9, 2021 at 10:25am

Jacksonville Chief of Police Adam Mefford gave the City Council an update last night following ongoing events in the 600 block of Prairie Street that included a recent drive-by shooting.

Mefford said he has been working with residents to help find ways to make the neighborhood safer going forward. He says during the process of an after-action review of the incidents, he feels there are some city ordinances that need to be looked at that can help alleviate future problems.

Mefford says one area that needs to be looked at is ordinances regarding rental properties. He says the number of rentals has increased over the last 20 years, and city officials need a way to be able to get out ahead of rental properties that are becoming a problem.

The doesn’t always correlate to just because you have more rental properties then you have more problems. But it’s time to take a little bit of a look at some of those ordinances that go along with rental properties. And the reason I say that is that, as city officials, we are able to look at these properties before they become a problem to where we can have responsible tenants and accountability for landlords.

Looking at some of the other model cites that have been brought to my attention such as Aurora, Springfield, some of the Chicagoland suburbs, reviewing some of that, I think a lot of those ordinances would fit here locally with us.”

Mefford says problem properties are not the norm, and usually are centered around an isolated incident or individual. He says he would like to see an ordinance that will help city officials address the problem properties and not blanket all rentals.

Mefford says another part that he began discussing with City Attorney Dan Beard a few months ago was looking into the city’s animal ordinance and how it can be updated.

Pets in this community are a very important part of families. They are family, and what we need to do is be able to have an ordinance that protects responsible pet owners, and punishes irresponsible pet owners. So we don’t have problems with children not being able to play outside because the neighbor’s dog may attack, or you can’t walk your dog because you’re in fear of the neighbor’s dog.

Right now we have ordinances on the books, and I want to sit down with animal control and sit down with our officials and make sure that we are targeting problems, not blanket punishing people for being able to live free in their communities and their neighborhoods.”

Mefford says he is willing to work with both city officials and residents to help to work to shape the ordinances to become more in line with what the community is right now, to protect those neighborhoods, the streets, and the community as a whole before problems happen.