Despite pleas from groups, City Council president ends Safer Together committee

Committee recommended Citizens Review Board to improve police, community relations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A day after 15 community organizations or individuals signed an open letter to City Council President Sam Newby, imploring him to continue the work being done by Jacksonville’s Safer Together Committee, Newby responded with a memo thanking them for their service -- which he says is complete.

Newby said he’s putting an end to the committee, which earlier this year recommended forming a Citizens Review Board as one method of bringing the Black community and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office together.

READ: Newby’s memo to the Safer Together committee members

The last meeting of the committee became very contentious as members of the public blasted the sheriff and the mayor for not being at the meetings. As a result of that response, City Councilman Michael Boylan stepped down from the Safer Together committee, prompting the letter to Newby from the groups.

The letter read in part, “With the recent resignation of Councilman Michael Boylan from the committee, it has left many in the community shocked and afraid that this committee will die and no meaningful reform will occur. We are asking you to take a stand with community leaders and organizations and keep the work of the Safer Together committee going.”

But Newby wrote a memo Wednesday with the subject “Safer Together Workshops Completion” and in it, he thanked the members for their service. He told News4Jax that the committee’s work is over and there will be no more scheduled meetings with the group.

Safer Together has held a series of workshops with members of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and after those workshops, recommended the creation of a CRB. The current review process starts with the State Attorney’s Office, and then an internal review by JSO.

Boylan has said that since the start of the committee he was not in support of a CRB, something that the Northside Coalition and other community members have pushed for.