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With the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners starting to deliberate the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office is asking for a slightly bigger slice. Documents submitted to the Board show SJSO is asking for a roughly 9% increase over last year, to bring their budget up to a little more than $82 million. A good chunk of that money would be earmarked for new hires. SJSO wants to add 22 law enforcement deputies and five corrections deputies, as well as part-time school crossing guards and crime scene technicians. SJSO says they need to expand the force, in order to keep pace with the consistently growing population of the county. “If we go too many more years without growth in that patrol arena, eventually, the citizens are going to see a delay in response,” says SJSO Spokesman Chuck Mulligan. Not only could a delay in adding these positions trickle down to you, but Mulligan says it’s also important to factor in the time it takes to recruit and train the new hires. He says it would be about a year before these new positions would be filled and in the field, so it’s important to act now. This request is not the only thing the Sheriff’s Office has been doing to deal with growth in St. Johns County. We told you earlier this year that SJSO updated their patrol map, in an effort to prevent any escalation in response times, especially for priority calls. Now, it is up to the County to determine if they want to fund the additional hires. Commissioners will spend the next few months putting together the County budget, which must be approved by the end of September, before the start of the next fiscal year.
Months after an armed home invasion robbery in Fernandina Beach that injured two people, investigators say they've now arrested a third suspect in connection. The Fernandina Beach Police Department has announced the arrest of 24-year-old Cedrice Brown. They say he was taken into custody early Wednesday morning, not far from the University of North Carolina. Police tell us when he was arrested he was in possession of two stolen guns and booked on various North Carolina charges. A hold has been placed on Brown to have him extradited to Florida, where he faces armed robbery and armed burglary charges. Police say since the December 22, 2018, incident at a home on Manatee Avenue, they've determined that the robbery was pre-planned due to one of the suspects involved having knowledge of where certain items were. At the time of the robbery, police 15 people were inside. The victims reported seeing several suspects wearing masks and carrying various weapons, rifles, handguns and knives. Two people were injured during the robbery, after being hit in the head with guns. WOKV told you that one suspect was arrested while attempting to flee. A second suspect was arrested at a later time. Police say they're continuing to work on identifying the remaining suspects, who they believe are from outside the Nassau County-area.