Rutherford asks for reservists back on streets

Sheriff: Military reservists could make difference for personnel-strapped JSO

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sheriff John Rutherford is making a big request of local officers who pull double duty by serving as military reservists.

He says with cuts to his staff, he wants those officers to be relieved of their work as military reservists so he can have more officers on the streets to help cut down on crime in Jacksonville.
"We've been in contact with all of the different military branches to let them know our officers who are serving in the military reserves that if they're not mission critical to them they are mission critical to us," Rutherford said. "If they can replace them with someone else, please do because we need them desperately on the street." 
The reason: Crime rates are going up again, and Rutherford blames the cuts made to his staff because of budget cuts.
"Being short 147 police officers and all 92 community service officers has hurt us tremendously," Rutherford said. "Violent crime and crime overall has gone up this past year as a result of that."

There are about a dozen reserve officers in Northeast Florida that could potentially help JSO, by coming home from serving extended orders. This wouldn't affect any officers who only serve on the reserves on weekends.
Rutherford said if any reserve officers could leave their post and do basic patrols it could make a huge difference. At least one has already agreed to come back soon. 
"We are scraping the barrel trying to find officers to put on the street to respond to calls for service," Rutherford said.
JSO is currently recruiting, but that is to fill any existing job openings under the current 1,603 officer cap. 

During the city's budget talks, Rutherford warned that no new police hires could mean another year of violence in Jacksonville.
"We've got to get back to the numbers we had: 1,750 and 92 community service officers and that's going to take some decent leadership coming from the Mayor's Office and the City Council," Rutherford said. 

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