Union, Residents Against Police Layoffs

Sheriff Says 52 Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Positions Must Be Cut

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - People who live in the area just west of downtown where 15 people have been shot, four of whom died, in two mass shootings in the last few days say they were surprised to hear the Jacksonville sheriff is talking about laying off police officers to save money.

"They don't need to be laying them off. They need to ride though here every 10 minutes," a resident named Mary, who didn't want to give her last name, said.

Sheriff John Rutherford said Tuesday that 52 current Jacksonville Sheriff's Office jobs are on the line, including both officers and civilian employees, because of a $4.4 million hole in the city budget.

Additionally, Rutherford said, 70 vacant positions will be eliminated.

Video: Document: JSO's Budget Breakdown

Mayor Alvin Brown spoke Wednesday about the fact that his proposed budget will mean police layoffs.

"No, I am not concerned about him downsizing and streamlining the Sheriff's Office," Brown said. "I want to call him chief of police. He knows his department. He knows where the opportunities are, and I don't think it will jeopardize public safety."

But Nelson Cuba, the head of the police union, said the cuts will put public safety in jeopardy. Cuba emphasized again Wednesday that the recent wave of violence proves that.

Last year, the Sheriff's Office was able to hire more officers. Cuba said taking them away does not make sense.

"We are the bone. We are the ones that gets the job done day in and day out for the community," he said. "So if you have to make cuts, then you start with the folks that can't do what we do, and that means enforce the laws and have the arrest powers to be able to do things that need to be done on the street."

Cuba said the Sheriff's Office could save several million dollars by doing away with community service officers, most recognizable as the officers who wear bright yellow-green vests and are often seen directing traffic and working traffic accidents.

"He is willing, in my opinion, to make the community unsafe by pulling police officers when we can make cuts elsewhere, such as community service officers," Cuba said.

The full council will take up the budget recommendations next month.

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