JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of retired law enforcement officers and healthcare workers across the state are prepared to answer Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call to come back to work and head the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.
That includes Mike Duckworth, an officer who retired from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in 2019. Duckworth patrolled the streets for 20 years. He spent five years in investigations and three years at the courthouse.
He says he’s ready to get back to work, if the city of Jacksonville needs him.
“This business is like a calling, and it’s really kind of hard to leave,” Duckworth said. “The resources, they’ve got to be running thin, and I don’t understand all the staff decisions or protocol, but you’re not letting anybody off. You’re working long hours, then God forbid if something happened to those in the ranks, you have a limited number of people to pull from to fill those slots.”
Duckworth’s decision comes after DeSantis said, “We need folks to come and return to service.” The governor eliminated the six month time period that officers had to wait to return to work after they retire.
Duckworth said police work is a labor of love, and he wants to be there to help his police family and his community. He said several officers he’s spoken with on social media and on the phone say they are also prepared to return to police work.
It comes at a time when first responders are in contact with the public everyday, while the rest of America isolates at home.
“There are many of us willing to go back,” Duckworth said. “It’s obviously going to be on a limited basis.”
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has not said that it needs retired officers to return to the force during the pandemic, but if the sheriff says the word, Duckworth and others say they are ready to respond.