JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police video posted to YouTube this week highlights many concerns the organization has with the state of affairs for police in the city.
No. 1 on the list is pay. According to statistics in the video, pay for officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office ranks near the bottom of similar agencies in the state.
According to the video (embedded below), after health insurance deductions, the gross annual income for a new patrol officer in Jacksonville is $28,559, which is $649 above the poverty level for a family of five in Florida.
The video also includes interviews with former JSO officers detailing why they left the agency and the concern that personnel will continue to do so.
One officer who left Jacksonville for Colorado said even being shot in the line of duty during a traffic stop with his new agency hasn't made him second-guess his choice to leave.
"Even after that incident happened I don't regret leaving at all," Garrett Osilka said. "In fact, I think it's the best decision I made or we made as a family to date."
Ron Holland has moved on to Tampa from JSO and blamed Sheriff John Rutherford for his decision to leave. He said his choice had to do with how officers were treated during budget talks with the city.
"I got tired of feeling like a pawn basically," Holland said. "We were being used to try and get what he wanted and not really for what was good for the department and that is why I decided to leave the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
"I decided to leave because I actually wanted some stability. Years down the road when it's time for me to retire, I wanted to make sure I had an actual pension."
Rutherford recently lashed out at the FOP for hosting a job fair to help officers find jobs with other agencies.
"I think it's ridiculous, a terrible move by the Fraternal Order of Police -- one of a string of what I think has been many," Rutherford said.
The head of the FOP said the organization is just looking out for its members and pay and benefit differences for officers have to be addressed by the City Council.
Rutherford also made a plea this week for military reservists within JSO to be allowed to return if they are not mission critical because he needs more officers on the streets.