JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several times during the only televised sheriff’s debate on Wednesday night, the idea of community policing was brought up and addressed.
Five candidates who hope to become the next sheriff of Jacksonville met together and answered the community’s questions about the biggest issues facing Jacksonville.
Duval County Sheriff Pat Ivey went before city council members Thursday to talk about the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office budget and insisted that JSO is reaching out to the community.
Ivey defended JSO naming several existing initiatives and programs that address the community and bridges the gap between police and the people.
“We have a citizen’s academy, we’ve had for many, many years. We have a teen academy. We have a teen driving program. We have all these things, not to mention the Police Athletic League, which is your small, elementary after-school studies. I could go on and on,” Ivey said.
Ivey said if anything, JSO is not lacking in the application of cop-style community policing, but he did mention that JSO “could have done more to talk about it.”
Among the many topics addressed at the hour-long debate, building relationships and trust with the community through transparency was a hot topic.
The candidates vying to earn the votes of Duval County residents include four Democrats — Lakesha Burton, Wayne Clark, Tony Cummings and Ken Jefferson. T.K. Waters is the only Republican candidate.
Each candidate pledged to emphasize community outreach to improve the relationship between law enforcement and Jacksonville residents.
“One of the things I will do is be more visible in the community. People talk about community policing, people want to see their sheriff,” Clark said.
“What I would do first is implement a public accountability office inside the sheriff’s office along with civilian review boards to make sure that you guys can hold us accountable for what we do and don’t do with your tax dollars and your resources,” Cummings said.
“Ya know, being visible is not enough. You need to be relevant. If you’re going to be in the community as a sheriff, you need to be relevant. You need to go out and talk to people,” Jefferson said.
“We need to have the appropriate amount of manpower on our street to effectively keep our citizens safe in the city of Jacksonville,” Waters said.
“Over the last several years, as we have minimized community policing, and shaved it in a unit or labeled it as a program, the gap between our community and law enforcement has widened,” Burton said.