Community group calls for defunding JSO

President of Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police says 'taking money from public safety ... is a fast track to a less safe city'

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Northside Coalition, a local community advocacy organization, is calling for Mayor Lenny Curry to defund the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The call comes after Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams last week asked for $6 million more in the JSO budget. In total, the sheriff is asking for $481 million to fund his office.

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Ben Frazier, of the Northside Coalition, said the current JSO budget is “massively overweight, inflated and ineffective.” He said money allocated to JSO should be reinvested to fund community service and resources.

“The next fiscal year budget that the mayor proposes should include a minimum 25% reduction for JSO,” Frazier said in a release Sunday. “A 25% reduction would produce a $90 million reinvestment amount that would be used to fund non-policing forms of public safety and community support.” 

Frazier described non-policing forms of public safety as social and youth services, housing, education and other community resources.

“The City Council, the mayor and the sheriff should redirect the public safety budget to be more focused on prevention and intervention,” Frazier said.

Steve Zona, president of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police, released a statement to News4Jax in response to Frazier’s request.

“Calling for defunding of the police is a radical idea that makes pretty hashtags on social media. For too long people have been laying all of the societal ills on the feet of law enforcement. All communities should address poverty, education and infrastructure but taking money from public safety to accomplish this goal is a fast track to a less safe city,” the statement reads, in part.