Sheriff calls for 100 new officers on same day as police-involved shooting

Sheriff Mike Williams says Jacksonville is growing too quickly, he needs help

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Friday's officer-involved shooting in Jacksonville's Paxon neighborhood came on the same day Sheriff Mike Williams asked the City Council for 100 new officers.

Williams said the city is growing too quickly, and he needs help.

There are a few issues the sheriff is bringing up. For instance, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office needs to serve people who live in booming areas, such as Oceanway, Oakleaf, Argyle, Bartram and north Nocatee. 

At the same time, issues seemed to simmer this summer between JSO and council members who represent Jacksonville’s urban core. That was also addressed on Friday. 

When Williams spoke to city leaders Friday, he asked for 100 new officers -- 80 next year and 20 more after that. 

The sheriff said more officers are needed in light of the huge growth of the far reaches of the county, such as in Bartram Park, just north of the Duval-St. Johns county line, where Kathy Garger has lived for 13 years. 

"I don't really think we have a big enough police presence, to be honest with you. We rarely see cars coming," Garger said. 

Another issue that popped up stems from an incident that happened earlier this year, when well-known Pastor Darien Bolden Sr. was pulled over by JSO. Bolden said a gun was pointed at him without cause and that he was profiled. 

Three African-American council members mentioned that, but also complained of stories in the media that tried to paint a picture of a rift between the Jacksonville City Council and the sheriff. 

"What we as a society cannot do is pretend that things don't exist, and we brush over it. So you deal with it and then you move forward," said City Councilman Reggie Brown. "And I think that's what happened today."

Williams said he's aware of all the issues, and he's also calling for more diversity training. 

"We're looking at many different types of training: diversity training, implicit bias training. All the things you hear nationally, those are trends, and we pay attention to that," Williams said. "It could be a budget issue. So we're working through all those details."

As of Friday, Williams said, there are 1,683 officers on the force, and they have to protect more than 880,000 residents in a city that covers 747 square miles of land. 

In a city that size, Williams said, a study shows he ideally needs 1,850 officers to do the job.

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