84ºF

FOP seeks Marsy’s Law protection for JSO officers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police has filed suit against the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, seeking the same protection for officers that everyone else in Florida got when Marsy’s Law was passed.

The constitutional amendment, which was approved by 61% of Florida voters in 2018 and took effect in 2019, gives crime victims the right to keep their names and additional personal information private -- hidden on things such as police report, which the public has access to.

In the lawsuit, the FOP says that Sheriff Mike Williams “has refused to recognize the constitutional rights of his officers when those officers are victims of criminal acts while acting with the scope of their duties.”

If the FOP wins the lawsuit, that could mean the names of officers in some police shootings would not be released if they were attacked before they used deadly force.

“The sheriff here in Jacksonville does not want to extend those protections, all those Marcy’s Law protections, to police officers if they’re a victim of a crime in the performance of their duty,” FOP President Steve Zona told News4Jax. “They have families at home, too, and we’re victims of some of the most violent crimes ourselves here in Jacksonville.”

RELATED: Is Marsy’s Law hurting local criminal investigations?

Allowing Marsy’s Law protections for police vary by law enforcement department throughout the state. After conversations with top brass at the Sheriff’s Office, Zona says, the professional disagreement will have to be discussed in court.

“We feel like this law should be extended to us whether we’re on duty or off duty, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday. No hearings have yet been set.

News4Jax reached out to the Sheriff’s Office for comment but had not heard back as of Thursday evening.


About the Authors: