Jacksonville, Florida – Mayor Alvin Brown, (D), Jacksonville, pledged when he became Mayor, to not raise taxes, go over the city budget with a fine tooth comb, and reduce waste. These pledges, along with other promises, such as the one he took, and followed through on, to not take a City retirement, are admirable promises, on which he has mostly delivered.
I believe in reducing government waste, that our politicians need to remember they are stewards of the people’s business, and our government needs to get the most it can out of every penny, of the people’s money. Mayor Brown has not only talked the talk, he has walked the walk; however, there does come a time to bend like the willow, rather than stand like the mighty oak. Recent developments between the Mayor’s office, and the Sheriff’s office, over how best to spend the people’s money, is a good example of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object, and the need to bend like the willow, to save a valuable public institution.
Last budget year, the Mayor submitted a budget in which the Sheriff’s office was to make cuts. Sheriff John Rutherford (R), Jacksonville, did his part, and convinced the police officers of Duval County to do the same, and even more, for the same pay. It was hard, but ways were found to meet the cuts the Mayor wanted, and the public safety, apparently has not suffered. I say apparently because sometimes we do not know how things are going on the street for some time, because statisticians, and the like must go over records, and look for the empirical data needed to issue factual studies as to how things have actually worked out.
This budget year the Mayor has submitted a budget calling on the Sheriff’s office to cut almost $30,000,000.00 from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) budget, in addition to the cuts made last year. As if this were not enough, another $7,000,000.00, in cuts, to the JSO budget, were hidden in the Mayors budget proposal, and Sheriff John Rutherford was unaware of this, having not been informed by Mayor Alvin Brown, or his staff. Thankfully Sheriff Rutherford discovered these additional cuts before the budget went before the City Council.
The bottom line on these cuts, to the Sheriff’s office budget, will be the elimination of Duval County’s entire force of Public Service Officers, and the elimination of nearly 100 sworn Police Officers, including Guards, at the jail. A brief example of how this will impact the citizens of Duval County is when a person has an automobile accident, they will now have to call the Florida Highway Patrol, to have an accident report made. I am sure traffic control issues surrounding an accident will endanger motorists unfortunate enough to be near an automobile accident. Public safety at major events will also be compromised because there will not be enough Sworn Officers, and Public Service Officers to post, at these events, in case of a problem. Cuts in patrols will encourage drug dealers to expand their operations, murderers to murder, and other various types of criminals to commit crimes. I do not like this picture. It is insane to cut public safety to this point.
Sherriff John Rutherford, to his credit, is asking the people of Jacksonville to not accept these cuts. He firmly believes public safety will be compromised. He submits to the taxpayers that they pay the same amount of property tax they paid last year, and this single act will allow the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office to avoid the draconian cuts the Mayor is proposing. This means, if a citizen paid $1,000.00 in property taxes last year, they would pay the same this year. I see nothing wrong with this. It is not a tax increase, and it will save the current makeup of a very valuable asset of Jacksonville, it’s Police Force. I would even agree to a half cent increase to the sales tax, in order to avoid drastic cuts, to the protection of the citizens of Jacksonville, provided by our Police Officers, in these troubled times.
Mayor Alvin Brown, and the City Council are playing with fire. If these cuts go through, and Jacksonville once again becomes the murder capital of Florida, none of these politicians calling for these cuts to our Police Force will be re-elected. Worse than not being re-elected will be having the citizens of Jacksonville being preyed on by criminals, and children getting shot in the cross fire of gang wars. Even worse crimes could be around the corner, if the Mayor, and City Council do not back down, on the cuts, to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Someone has not thought this through, and that someone is Mayor Alvin Brown (D), Jacksonville.
PS: News is City Council rejected Sheriff’s proposal to save the Police Department