ST. JOHN, Fla. – Rapid population growth in St. Johns County has prompted the Sheriff’s Office to change the way it assigns patrol deputies in an effort to improve response times.
The Sheriff’s Office said it hasn’t made a major change to its zone maps since the 1980s, when many of the boundaries were set up by major roads. This month, the Sheriff's Office patrol assignment maps is going from 15 zones to 30 new sectors and subsectors. The boundaries were drawn with future growth in mind.
"So there are some areas right now that are a subsector for us that, quite frankly right now, is nothing but woods," Sheriff's Office spokesman Chuck Mulligan said. "But we know that the permits have already been approved, we know it’s already on the planning board to move forward. In the near future, there may be 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 homes in that area."
Mulligan explained the goal is efficiency and faster response times to calls where people’s lives or property could be at risk.
"We want to be there in five minutes or less," Mulligan said. "We saw that some of our response times were starting to creep up in certain areas, in certain times of the day, upwards of seven minutes. And so what we are hoping to do is to bring that down."
Residents we spoke with said they feel the Sheriff’s Office already does a good job patrolling the county but they are glad to see deputies preparing for what’s ahead.
"They are here. They are friendly. They have a presence. They seem to want to make sure that the neighborhoods stay safe," Ken Duemig said.
The new boundaries on the map are flexible should any major developments come up. The Sheriff’s Office said it should set them up for the next 20 years or so.