Being involved in a crash is stressful enough, but having to wait nearly two hours for a police officer to respond can make the experience even more frustrated.  And, in some cases, frightening.

Since the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office slashed its budget last year -- eliminating 92 community service officer positions and 74 vacant police officer positions -- the Florida Highway Patrol has had to pick up the slack -- responding to many more crashes on state roads throughout Duval County.

It's a jurisdictional dance that left John Higbee stranded on Atlantic Boulevard for almost two hours after being rear-ended a few months ago.

"About 30 minutes later I called 911 back and said we're still here and nobody has come," said Higbee.

The JSO officer who escorted Hibgee and the other driver involved to a safe parking lot left them to wait for a state trooper to come write an accident report.

The FHP says it's all part of a new reality in response times.


"On a day shift, if it's not raining, it's probably 25-30, sometimes they'll go an hour," said FHP Capt. Keith Gaston. "On the afternoon shift where we have more crashes than we do on the day shift, then it's closer to an hour, and will go up to two hours."

Sheriff John Rutherford says he had no choice but to shift some of those enforcement duties back to FHP.

"I know they're struggling for resources as well," said Rutherford. "My problem is, I do not want to pull resources out of neighborhoods where I'm trying to fight violent crime to go work traffic crashes on state roads which is their responsibility," he continued.

Channel 4 pressed Gaston on how many troopers he realistically needs to cover the additional workload.

"Twenty per shift," Gaston replied. "We need to triple the number of personnel that we have assigned to Duval county to realistically handle the workload."

In 2011, FHP responded to more than 1,700 crashes between July 1 and  December 31.

In 2012 the figures jump to 5,000 crashes during that same time period. That's a jump of more than 3,200 crashes with no additional staff.

Sheriff Rutherford says his agency is still covering about 70 percent of state roads in Duval County.

State roads that fall under zone 2, 3, and 4 are now enforced by FHP. Some of the major roads in those zones include San Jose Boulevard, Philips Highway, J. Turner Butler Boulevard, and University, Atlantic and Southside boulevards.

Traffic enforcement on state roads in zones 1, 5 and 6 are still covered by JSO. The major roads there include Martin Luther King Pkwy, Interstate 295 in Northwest Jacksonville and Lem Turner Road.

On a typical day, FHP has 21 officers patrolling Duval County, spread throughout seven shifts. JSO estimates it has 350 officers per day, divided between six different shifts. It's a difference of nearly 60 officers per day, that Capt. Gaston says he is actively trying to change.

Both agencies agree the community deserves better -- and will continue to fight for more resources.

"They need to let those folks know what the impact of these cuts are," said Rutherford. "Until they hear from the people, it's not going to be a priority."