Jacksonville councilman proposing independent citizen review board

Councilman Garrett Dennis says board would help create better relationship between community, JSO

The council man states the board hopes to learn more about JSO operations and bringing ideas to the table.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville City Council member is proposing an independent citizen review board.

City Councilman Garrett Dennis said he feels the board would help create a better relationship between the community and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Dennis said the board would be comprised of a diverse group of community members who will learn more about how JSO operates and where they can bring ideas to the table.

“It is a board to, from a community standpoint, to foster accountability, transparency, as well as communication,” Dennis said.

Dennis said the board would consist of 15 members, 14 of whom would be selected by council members. The board would also include a JSO officer.

“They have to be over 18 years old. They can’t have a criminal record," Dennis said.

Dennis said the board would participate in ridealongs with JSO and review cases that have been closed, including officer-involved shootings and excessive force.

“They will recommend possible legislative changes," Dennis said. “Will they have subpoena power? No. Can they ask for cases to be reopened? No, but they will be able to see it and review it from a fresh set of eyes."

Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Zona said he doesn’t agree with Dennis' proposal.

“When the police officers are investigated, they’re sometimes six months long or longer, and a lot of, frankly, evil things are said by these activist groups about these police officers. And they drag these police officers and their families through the mud, and then when the investigation is over with it, it shows that the officer acted appropriately," Zona said. "And nobody goes back and takes anything away that happened to that police officer, so what Councilman Dennis is asking for is another six months or another four months of dragging that police officer through the mud.”

Dennis said the proposal will be in front of committees in two weeks and he hopes it will go to City Council in three weeks.