JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville's Sheriff says more police are needed on the streets to help combat a recent rash of violence that has swept the city.
JSO responded to several shootings over the course of Monday, and just since Tuesday night there have been two more in Jacksonville. Rutherford says it's the impact of several years of budget cuts to his office starting to show.
"Crime, particularly violent crime in this community, was going down in double digits," Rutherford said. "You take those resources away and it's going to begin to have an impact. And I think we're starting to see that impact now."
Rutherford says in the last few years he's lost 147 officers and plans to ask for 40 more next fiscal year along with 40 community service officers. CSO positions were eliminated from the JSO due to budget constraints.
"We're really doing all we can do with the resources that we have, and that's what concerns me," says Sheriff Rutherford.
Rutherford says he met with Mayor Alvin Brown a few weeks ago to address the issue of needing more police officers. A spokesman for the Mayor's Office tells our partner Action News that while they support Rutherford's efforts to fight crime more effectively, hiring new officers is withing the Sheriff's domain.
In the last several months there have been a number of high-profile shootings that remain unsolved. Earlier this month four people were found shot dead in a Murray Hill home. In July 22-year-old Amber Bass was found shot dead in front of her Westside home where she lived with her sister. Then in August a 13-year-old and 14-year-old were killed in a drive-by shooting in Northwest Jacksonville.
""They've been so cooperative, but there's only so much they can do," said Susan Singer, a family friend of Amber Bass. "We just feel like there needs to be more people on the streets to stop the murders, and then more detectives for each case."
The Florida Times-Union reports Monday's shooting of a 20-year-old man on Indian Lakes Ct. on the Westside was the 100th homicide in Jacksonville in 2013. His killer is also still on the loose. Last year at this time Jacksonville had recorded 88 homicides.
Singer and her husband stood outside JSO on Tuesday holding signs in Amber's memory and pleading with the mayor and city council to give the Sheriff the resources he needs to hire more police