JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Sheriff T.K. Waters presented his vision for the future of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office Wednesday night during a town hall meeting at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center.
He outlined how he plans to spend the nearly $600 million he is asking the city council and talked about the need to strengthen policing. And he did it in front of a packed house. So many people came that some had to stand.
Those in attendance learned about the JSO reorganization project, which will change current zones to districts, and a new program called “Connect Duval,” which Waters said will help officers get evidence faster.
One person said after listening to Waters that he thought the $600 million would be well spent.
“I don’t think you can allocate a budget to make our city safer. Whatever we need, I think we should do it,” said Melissa Jackson.
Sheriff Waters said that as the city grows, the JSO needs more officers, especially as it wants to focus more on policing.
For this, according to him, it is necessary to hire 216 officers. But he’s only asking for 80 for next year.
He also detailed the voluntary “Connect Duval” program, under which residents can sign up and register their cameras with the JSO so that the department can get evidence and solve crimes faster if needed.
The Waters administration also launched its reorganization project. He will get rid of the current patrol zone, created about a quarter of a century ago, and switch to districts. There will be six of them, 24 sectors and about 144 sub-sectors. Waters says this will help officers better address patrol issues, such as response time, and increase job satisfaction.
“By doing this and getting closer, we can connect with our community again and do better,” he added.
Waters said it would help fight crime, which he mentioned was on the decline this year, which Mary Dennis liked.
“I’m glad to hear his plan about gun violence, drugs and stuff like that. I’m just glad to hear he has a plan,” Dennis said.
In addition to fighting crime and policing, the sheriff also said the JSO would get new cars that taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for.
And while most of the people News4JAX spoke to said they left feeling better about the city’s future, especially after the Q&A session, some didn’t.
“We don’t need new cars,” LaShonda said. “I wasn’t impressed at all.”
News4JAX asked if the town hall would take place next year and one officer said it was possible.
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