St. Augustine Beach mayor wants fewer police

Proposal would replace city police officers with SJSCO deputies

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - The mayor of St. Augustine Beach is expected to make a push for a smaller police force at a commission meeting on Monday evening.

S. Gary Snodgrass is proposing to cut the city's police force by about half and use St. Johns County Sheriff's Office deputies in their place.

Right now, the St. Augustine Beach Police Department consists of a chief, an assistant chief and 12 officers. Snodgrass instead wants only a chief, a sergeant, and five officers.

Snodgrass says the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office would fill the gaps with extra deputies in the area.

In his proposal, Snodgrass wrote: "The city can save approximately $724,000 a year. This level of surplus funds could provide the city with financial flexibility, potentially holding taxes in line while funding numerous public works related initiatives."

The St. Augustine Beach Police Department is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this year, several officers filed ethics complaints against the police chief, who later retired. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement later cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Snodgrass cited the problems in his proposal, writing: "Two times in the past decade, the city has encountered significant dissatisfaction, low morale and disputes involving the chain of command and apparent dysfunction with its police department. Two police chiefs have retired under less than ideal circumstances."

The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office sheriff and undersheriff are both expected at the meeting.

The mayor's office issued no comment on the proposal on Sunday evening.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.