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Jax budget to likely recommend JSO funding boost following violent crime spike
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Jax budget to likely recommend JSO funding boost following violent crime spike

Jax budget to likely recommend JSO funding boost following violent crime spike
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

Jax budget to likely recommend JSO funding boost following violent crime spike

Another rise in violent crime, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says it’s spreading to other parts of the city.

JSO launched “Operation Ceasefire” just over two months ago, increasing patrols and resources in a portion of Northwest Jacksonville that saw a rise in gun violence.  In order to do this, officers were shifted from other portions of the city.

Sheriff John Rutherford won’t go as far as saying that moving officers is leading directly to a rise in crime in other portions of Jacksonville, but he says there is a “concerning” spike.

“We moved resources out, crime went up,” Rutherford says.

In the last 14 days, there have been eight murders in 29 incidents of violent crime. Three of the incidents of violent crime happened in the Ceasefire zone. 12 happened in and around Downtown and seven on the Westside.

“A lot of the officers that we now have in the Ceasefire area are, in fact, from other areas of town,” Rutherford says.

I asked Rutherford whether they are now considering an expansion or shift for “Operation Ceasefire” to cover some of these other rising crime areas, and he says they are. Rutherford further says he’s already authorized an increase in overtime pay across Jacksonville.

He says a real fix for the rise is going to come with an increase in manpower.

“When we put resources in, we see crime go down,” he says.

Rutherford says crime in the Ceasefire zone is down dramatically since the patrol efforts were increase. He says JSO needs more officers in order to push down crime across the rest of the city now as well.  He has asked the Mayor for $8 million to hire and outfit 40 officers and 40 community service officers.

“It’s not increasing manpower, it’s restoring manpower,” he says.

WOKV has obtained a draft of some of the Mayor’s budget outline as it as written at the end of business Friday.  The draft is still subject to change until it is finalized to present to City Council on Monday, so there is the potential the items currently budgeted could change.

The current version of the draft, however, includes funding to increase the size of JSO by 79 people. 

After it’s presented to Council on Monday, the Mayor’s budget outline will then undergo weeks of vetting and debate before it’s acted on by the end of September.  An increase in revenue coming from various streams- including an increase in property value- has given the City more money to invest than in prior years.

Jacksonville’s City Council voted last year to raise your tax rate in order to fund some city services, like roadway maintenance, that had not been given money under the proposal from the Mayor’s Office. Unlike last year’s proposal, which also included extraordinary lapses- budget cuts compelled on a department without direction on where specifically in the department the cut should come from- there are no extraordinary lapses listed in the documents we’ve obtained. The documents are not a complete representation of the budget outline, however.

The Mayor’s Office says there are no layoffs in the budget this year.

It’s difficult at this stage to do a year-over-year comparison of the departmental budgets because the city has undergone a wide-scale reorganization which has moved personnel and responsibilities between divisions. When the complete outline is in, WOKV will work to break down the comparisons to take a close look at what this spending plan means for you.

Jacksonville’s Mayor will present the budget at 9 AM on Monday. WOKV will have team coverage from City Hall through the day. Tune in for updates every half hour on 104.5FM/AM690. I will also be live tweeting (@NewsAndNom) along with WOKV’s Morning reporter Anneliese Delgado (@OnAirAnneliese).

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