Members of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee said the additional funding would not reduce crime or improve public safety.
JACKSONVILLE, Florida. Some Jacksonville groups are calling on Mayor Donna Deegan to reconsider how much money she gives to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office in her first budget proposal.
Maria Garcia of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) said the $7.8 million increase in JSO would not help reduce crime.
Instead, the group believes the money could be put to better use by investing in community programs, mental health services, and social events.
“Every year they ask for more,” Garcia said, “but every year the community doesn’t get more from JSO.”
The JCAC plans to organize with other groups on Wednesday outside of Sheriff T.K.’s scheduled town hall. Waters to protest the proposed increase.
“There are a lot of problems with police brutality, the use of force, a lot of complaints that either remain uninvestigated or are superficially investigated and dismissed,” Garcia said.
Garcia said they like Deegan’s proposed funding for arts and infrastructure in abandoned areas.
“She’s committed to addressing social issues,” Garcia said, “improvements in some of our communities that have been hurt by a lack of infrastructure.”
But she hopes Deegan will take another look at the JSO budget and instead put that money into “community programs, mental health services and social events.”
In a statement to First Coast News on Monday, Waters said Deegan’s budget “reflects this agency’s recent successes and allows it to meet the ever-changing needs of our community.”
This budget will go towards hiring 40 new police officers and 18 informal positions.
Garcia said more officers on the streets would not solve the underlying problems.
“We have to invest in our communities and address the root causes of crime because you can never beat police crime,” Garcia said. “You can throw an infinite amount of police into a situation, but we see clearly over and over again that it doesn’t work.”
City Council will need to approve Deegan’s proposed budget before it goes into effect on October 1.
Sheriff Waters was not available for an interview on Tuesday, but a JSO spokesman said he was “supportive[s] the right of the citizens of Jacksonville to legal and peaceful protest.”
In a statement to First Coast News, Deegan said:
“I promised to build safer neighborhoods with a holistic approach that will bring more cops to the streets and uncover the root causes of crime. Our budget is funding more Kids Hope Alliance programs and the Jacksonville Public Library, as well as providing funding for the recommendations of the Mental Health Working Group and other quality of life priorities.”