Local sheriffs and Jacksonville’s next mayor on Wednesday evening held a news conference to discuss what they are saying is a growing issue of violence against law enforcement officers.
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters were joined by Clay County Sheriff Michell Cook, St. Johns County Sheriff Robert Hardwick, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, State Attorney Melissa Nelson, Mayor-Elect Donna Deegan and others.
Waters said in the last eight years, there’s been a 170% increase in violence against police. He called it an “explosion of violence.” He said police officers are human beings, not “mindless combatants.”
“We laugh, we cry, and we mourn. Like you went want to go home to our families at the end of our shift,” he said.
State Attorney Melissa Nelson said her office has filed more than 1,000 cases of battery on police officers, more than 1,000 cases of resisting police and more than 20 cases of attempted murder of police officers.
Both Waters and Nelson pointed to hatred of police portrayed on social media.
Hardwick said since he’s taken office, there have been well over 300 incidents of battery of his deputies. He says the body cams now being worn are for their safety, as well as transparency.