Jacksonville, Florida – Today, the Department of Justice recognized State Attorney Melissa Nelson of the Fourth Judicial Circuit for her Office’s outstanding support of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Initiative.
“Public safety is the culmination of leadership, vision, and a commitment to improving the quality of life in her community,” said U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez. “Melissa Nelson has achieved all three. Through a spirit of cooperation and public service, she has dedicated herself and her office to reducing crime by investing in people, proven methods and technologies, and imagining new possibilities. The success of Project Safe Neighborhoods in northeast Florida is directly attributable to her ability to galvanize her office, critical agencies and community partners around a common goal – creating safer communities.”
Melissa Nelson was elected State Attorney and sworn into office in 2017. Immediately thereafter, she made PSN a priority, becoming the driving force behind creating Northeast Florida’s first Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) and working to secure city funding for the CGIC. The Center was later constructed in her office, and officially opened on May 21, 2019. State Attorney Nelson worked closely with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to secure officers and agents to fully staff the CGIC. In addition, she has assigned some of the Fourth Circuit’s most experienced prosecutors to work with the CGIC team, welcomed prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (MDFL), and has helped foster a great working relationship among all participating agencies. Because of her dedication and leadership, she was named to ATF’s National Crime Gun Intelligence Board.
Prior to the CGIC opening, assistant state attorneys accompanied JSO officers to Denver, Colorado to learn about other successful PSN operations and how to incorporate best practices into the newly formed Jacksonville CGIC. As part of the overall effort, State Attorney Nelson helped to secure additional funding for National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) machines to ensure that recovered shell casings from shooting scenes are processed within 48 hours. Housed within JSO, two NIBIN machines and a full-time ballistics expert help accomplish this task. This integration of interagency coordination, cooperation, and technology has resulted in the successful prosecution of numerous state and federal violent crime cases.
To further complement PSN’s comprehensive strategy, State Attorney Nelson completely re-structured the juvenile division within her office to better serve the community and established a program to provide at least one prosecutor to every middle and high school in Duval County. Through this program, prosecutors regularly meet with students to improve relationships between the community, prosecutors, and law enforcement. In addition, as part of the MDFL’s federal Intensive Re-entry Program, assistant state attorneys are involved in the district’s re-entry efforts through the Jacksonville Re-entry Center (JREC).
Revitalized in 2017, PSN is a critical piece of the Department’s crime reduction efforts. PSN has focused on prosecuting those individuals who most significantly drive violence in our communities, and supports and fosters partnerships between law enforcement and schools, the faith community, and local community leaders to prevent and deter future criminal conduct.