Sheriff Rutherford explains to the media why he cannot afford to cut more positions after years of doing so. He says public safety will decrease if the council doesn't grant him $10.5 million from savings that the JSO accumulated.
Sheriff John Rutherford says he thinks the City Council understands he cannot make any more cuts, and he hopes they grant him $10.5 million in savings his office accumulated.
“I think going into this budget, they know exactly where we’re at now,” Rutherford said.
He said he is already committed to cutting 91 community service officer positions and closing a corrections facility.
If he doesn’t get the $10.5 million, he says he’ll have to lay off 95 more police officers and 58 corrections officers. He'll also have to close a Community Transition Center, which acts as a jail and drug treatment facility.
Rutherford mentioned that he will cut 70 Community Service Officers in a few weeks, as well as 154 civilian officers and 74 police officers.
“When you look at the number of positions in most agencies, we don’t have a lot of civilians to cut to begin with.”
Rutherford said the reason for that is because they’ve already had to cut civilian positions in previous years.
“That’s why we already come in with fewer civilians than most other agencies,” he said.
He says if the council will allow him to keep “a portion of the savings” they accumulated this year – the $10.5 million – then he can keep the corrections facility open and keep an additional 114 police positions on the street.
"We have been scrimping and saving all year to get this eleven million dollars," he said.
He spent a lot of time clarifying reports that he has a “whole backroom” of positions he can put. Rutherford emphasized that they have a recognized Information Technologies staff which they cannot afford to cut more from, as well as HR and budget management.
“We’re right where we should be,” he said.
Rutherford said that Jacksonville spends $396 on police for each person in Jacksonville. He compared that with St. Petersburg, which spends $590 on police for each person.
Rutherford said he’s also worried about next year’s budget, and he had a message for the Mayor and his administration.
“Mayor…pension fund….you got a year now to fix it. Because if you don’t, public safety for this community is in jeopardy. And it needs to be fixed.”
You can view documents compiled by the Sheriff's office comparing their staff to other agencies by clicking here.