After Chauvin verdict, Jacksonville FOP leader says ‘greatest criminal justice system’ worked

Steve Zona
Steve Zona

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd on Tuesday. The jury reached its verdict after deliberating about 10 hours over two days.

Chauvin, 45, was immediately led away with his hands cuffed behind his back and could be sent to prison for decades.

The ruling has sparked reaction from leaders all over the nation, including Florida and in Jacksonville. Steve Zona is the president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Jacksonville.

“I spoke to many officers since the verdict came down and the reaction is pretty consistent, and really it’s just simple that, you know, we have the greatest criminal justice system in the world. It worked,” Zona said. “We had a trial, the officer had his day in court and the verdict came down and we need to have faith in that.”

Zona served as a police officer for nearly 30 years and News4Jax asked if he believed there are places where methods of policing need to change.

“Are we perfect? No, we’re not perfect,” Zona said. “I think we strive every day to maintain the high standards that’s expected by our community. And I think where we can improve and there are legitimate suggestions on the table, we will partner with anyone on those ideas.”

The FOP leader said it’s an emotional time for the people he represents.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of emotion attached to this because, you know, we go to work every day. We make split-second decisions and sometimes those decisions have consequences that aren’t pleasant for the people we deal with,” Zona said. “So I’m sure every one of our members here in Jacksonville, across the country, are going through their mind and making sure that they do what they do every day, that they hold themselves to a high standard and they come to work and do the job for our communities.”

News4Jax has requested comment on the verdict from other Florida leaders, including Rep. Kat Cammack, R-FL District 3, Rep. John Rutherford, R-FL District 4, and Rep. Mike Waltz, R-FL District 6.

The following statements were released immediately following the verdict:

“Justice has been served. While this verdict is the outcome that we wanted to hear, today is not just about George Floyd. This is about Emmett Till, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte Wright.... Here in Florida, remember Harry and Harriette Moore, in Jacksonville Johnnie Mae Chappell and the countless others who were murdered and did not get the justice they deserved. Today is for them.”

Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville

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