JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is calling on the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to address staffing shortages in the Duval County jail.
The FOP President Randy Reeves said staffing has been a problem for the last few years and it’s only been getting worse.
The FOP hopes whoever is elected as the new sheriff of Jacksonville recognizes and addresses this problem.
Currently, the staff is working longer shifts, operating at minimal capacity and filling in where they can.
“When you’re operating at minimal staffing that can be a danger in itself. But now you’re filling the minimal staffing positions with employees that are overworked. So that’s always a concern of ours. Guys are working five days in a row, two or three of those days, they might be held over. And then on one of their days off, they’re being brought in to a work more overtime hours,” Reeves said.
Reeves also said the staffing issue has somewhat impacted police response times.
In the past, if inmates were in hospitals and needed police presence, the department would replace them with correction officers, but because there aren’t any correction officers, it’s taking away from officers who would normally be on the streets.
Reeves called the reasons for the staffing issues a “perfect storm of problems.”
“Over the last two or three years, we’ve seen law enforcement take a beating in the national media. Not so many people want to go into a career in law enforcement, whether that be police or corrections. So, I think that there are less people putting in for the job. Also, I think that the reality of it is when it comes to pay and benefits, you can go find another job that pays just as much or more with a lot less liability, street and mental and physical burden,” Reeves said.
He recognizes that it’s not an overnight fix, but stresses that the issue needs to be addressed for the safety of officers and the community.
Reeves encourages the community to spread the word about becoming a corrections officer as well as urges people to vote for the sheriff candidate they believe will help get things accomplished.
Reeves also said FOP plans to work with JSO closely to address the staffing issues and the organization is curious to see how the increased budget for JSO will go towards corrections.