CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - Dozens of law enforcement officials are crossing county lines to work for the Clay County School District police department, which was formed earlier in the year.
The moves are leaving some sheriff's offices with vacancies to fill. The Clay County School District police department has been hiring so it's ready to go for the upcoming school year.
Sheriff Gordon Smith, of the Bradford County Sheriff's Office, said he's not worried about keeping people safe and said his department has the wave of resignations under control.
"I can assure you this community is safe. There's no fear for the people," Smith said. "Good quality people are filling those positions."
One reason for the turnover, Smith said, is pay. Starting annual pay for the Clay County School District police department is $40,000. By comparison, starting annual pay for the other departments include:
- Clay County Sheriff's Office: $38,000
- Duval County School Police Department: $35,600
- Baker County Sheriff's Office: $34,500
- Bradford County Sheriff's Office: $33,000
"We can't be upset by that. We're glad that we got something from them and gave something to our community," Smith said. "I wish those that leave good luck."
Smith said his agency has a great list of applicants to fill the vacancies.
"They're already in training, already coming," Smith said. "It's always been a continual process my entire 33 years in law enforcement. It's nothing new to us."
Clay County's school police department said it's hiring the best of the best from surrounding counties. It said no officer on its staff has less than five years of law enforcement experience, and the average officer has 21 years of experience.
The school district provided the following numbers that show where the law enforcement officials are coming from:
|AGENCY||NUMBER OF OFFICERS|
|Clay County Sheriff's Office||5|
|Jacksonville Sheriff's Office||7|
|St. Johns County Sheriff's Office||2|
|Baker and/or Bradford County Sheriff's Office||5|
|Duval County School Police Department||6|
|UNF Police Department||2|
|FHP/Office of Agriculture||3|
|Navy Law Enforcement Office||2|
|Jacksonville Beach Police Department||1|
|Out of state||1|
|Other Florida sheriff's offices||8|
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