‘Safer Together’ report finds many African Americans distrust Jacksonville police

JACKSONVILLE Fla. – After months of meetings, conversations and surveys, a consultant hired by the city presented a 52-page report Wednesday on policing in Jacksonville.

A key takeaway: Many African Americans across the city don’t trust the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Dr. Tammy Hodo, the president of All Things Diverse LLC -- a consulting company -- presented the report during a “Safer Together” workshop.

Hodo used the weekend of the Orange Crush Festival as an example.

“Orange Crush was labeled Black beach weekend and we put this in our report. There were a 100 inmates removed from the county jail to St. Johns and Flagler County to make way for this black beach weekend. But we don’t see that when we have 20,000 people come for the Georgia-Florida game. The demographic is different,” Hodo said.

The discussion then shifted to the need for a citizens review board that would allow non-law enforcement members to take part in the investigation of officers that are accused of wrong doing such as use of force.

Right now, the State Attorney’s Office investigates alleged crimes by JSO officers, but critics say the SAO has the appearance of being too close to JSO.

“We don’t trust officer one investigating officer two because officer three has an influence on the investigator,” one speaker at the meeting said.

Randy Reeves, the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police vice president, believes citizen review boards are a bad idea.

“We have seen around the nation operate off emotions and agendas,” Reeves said. “They get hijacked.”

Hodo rebutted Reeves’s statement by saying she understand his comments but that the public perception is that no one is policing the police in Jacksonville.

JSO Director of Investigations Mike Bruno also spoke during the meeting, calling on more resources to help officers who respond to situations involving mental health issues.

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