JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4Jax is looking closer at the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's $438 million budget request for next year -- a $26 million increase over the current budget.
"Making sure we have enough officers on the street, not just in the challenged neighborhoods, but everywhere, obviously, to protect the community," Sheriff Mike Williams said Wednesday.
The Sheriff’s Office currently has just over 1,800 sworn officers.
Williams wants funding for 20 officers to pay for positions were already created, but that were not funded for 2018. Most of those were previously funded by a federal grant.
He is also trying to reduce response times for urgent calls, with the goal of an officer on scene in seven minutes or less. It's been slightly longer than that in 2017 and so far in 2018.
DOCUMENTS: Sheriff's budget proposal
Williams also wants to interact with residents more, hoping for more than 350 community engagement activities each month.
JSO budgets, number of officers over time
Based on online records, News4Jax research
*2019 proposed budget
"All those things kind of work together. There's not one thing. I wish there was one thing you could do to fix (crime) or eliminate it," Williams said.
Records from the U.S. Census Bureau show Jacksonville’s population has risen by 8.5 percent since 2010 (from 822,000 to 892,000). According to available records, the number of JSO sworn officers has increased by 4.7 percent -- with all of that increase coming in the last two years.
Last year, Jacksonville's overall crime rate dropped by 1.3 percent, although violent crime went up 1.5 percent.
Northside resident Greg Mobley wants to see more officers on the streets and a better response time.
"I think it would (help)," Mobley said.
The sheriff has said he’s trying to help with improved technology, asking for a new command center, body cameras for all officers and more positions for JSO’s new bullet database firearms laboratory, called NIBIN.
"I feel good about what we're going. I think we need to (do) more of what works. We're working on that everybody and we'll just keep looking for help from the community to make sure we can get ahead of it," Williams said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is also restructuring, to have fewer administrators on the payroll and more patrol officers on the street.
A new communications center will be opening at Cecil Commerce Center, which will be a backup 911 call center. The Sheriff's Office also plans to help the school board train school guardians.
"They have a full-time mission of protecting the schools from outside threats," Williams said. "Legislation dictates that we train those to a certain level and we're up and ready to do that."
Williams has other things he would like to see happen, including the addition of cruisers and the replacement of some weapons. Those are things the mayor might consider when he presents his budget in July.