DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jakari Young had only been the newly appointed Daytona Beach Police Chief for a few weeks when shooting violence exploded in his city last November.
“They gave me about a two-week window to settle in, and by that third week of November I was up two or three homicides,” Young said.
Six shootings hurt nine people and killed four, including a teenager on a basketball court involving a fight over a girl.
“When you talk about not having time to unpack or switch offices, we pretty much had to hit the ground running as far as getting on top of what was occurring out in the community,” Young said.
Young, the former Deputy Chief at the Daytona Beach PD and a Daytona Beach officer since 2001, said he knew what he had to do - reach out to his community immediately.
He gathered the community at the Midtown Cultural and Educational Center and asked them: what was he missing?
“I signed on to be the police chief of Daytona Beach, I didn’t think I was signing on to be the police chief in Chicago or Compton California or Baltimore Maryland,” Young said. “I’m not accepting that. What are the solutions? So that’s why I brought the community together. Because I understand we can’t do this on our own.”
The room was packed. And Chief Young said many in the community accepted shared responsibility for the violence.
“My message to community was, hey I got my game plan, I know where the hot spot is, and I’m going to apply pressure in that hot spot, as far as up take some patrols and proactive activity,” Young said. “But also we’re going to be out here on foot, checking in with business owners, check on all the neighbors that community, just so they see us.”
Young has already had a follow-up meeting with some of the people he met with in November, especially teenagers.
They asked to see police more - when there is no trouble. They suggested a Santa Run through the Derbyshire area.
“Unfortunately most times when we’re coming through there it’s not to say hello or Merry Christmas, we’re usually out there making arrests or chasing someone,” Young said. “It was funny you could see some of the folks were afraid to come outside and were like what’s going on now. And when they realized we were there just to wish them a merry Christmas, it was just amazing to see like the 180. Just doing more things like that, showing that it’s not just art job and doing our job but we’re invested in the community.”
Young’s agency was just re-accredited at the highest level possible and highest level ever for the PD, in part thanks to the Department’s commitment to unbiased policing.
“I make sure I’m consistent in how I’m treating people, I think that’s the key,” Young said. “And for us it starts in roll call, and briefing, we run scenarios. We run through different scenarios like, for example, a suspicious person, I ask them what makes them suspicious, what about them as suspicious. He doesn’t look like he belongs there, could it just be someone’s lawn guy? We have these types of conversations, and we openly discuss, things of that nature.”
The Department’s Biased Policing Policy is posted on the City’s website. You can view it by clicking or tapping here.
The PD also publishes its Biased Policing Reports here.
Young was a longtime instructor at the police academy at Daytona State College.
“I would tell them [cadets] you need to understand that in law enforcement we no longer get the benefit of the doubt, like we would have maybe 20 years ago,” Young said. “I would never command an agency that did not have a body camera. Because right now that’s pretty much your job, that’s your career on the line, if you do something that a complaint is filed and we can’t go back and review it and see what happened, and it’s your word against the Citizens word, there’s no guarantee the officer’s going to win that.”
Young said he’s highly selective about who he hires.
“I even tell folks on day one, you may be a great police officer, but you may not be a great fit from this agency,” Young said. “Because the last thing we want to do is be making arrests on people who don’t deserve to be arrested.
Investigators said they’ve made two arrests in four of the murders from November.
Police arrested Arrington Turner and Jermaine Jackson and are still searching for James Williams Jr.