JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With JSO taking away the radios that alert us to crime in Jacksonville, Action News found out, JSO is already giving us wrong information and waiting hours to give us information.
The radios allow us to hear what police are saying when they're out on the streets, but now JSO wants to act as a gatekeeper of information. They'll decide what gets released about certain crimes when they happen. They'll send us what they call an EARS broadcast. "Until now, the EARS was insignificant. You had the radio and could hear the call," said Sheriff John Rutherford.
We've been getting EARS broadcasts for years. Most times we have heard the crime call a long time before the sheriff's office sent the ears notifications. In the last week, there've been at least eight EARS broadcasts issued. On average, they've been sent to Action News between an hour and a half and two and a half hours after police were called to the scene. In fact, when we got to one scene on the Northside, 40 minutes after the ears broadcast, the scene was already clear.
We also found some of the EARS reports were inaccurate. Last week, in a road rage incident on the Buckman Bridge the EARS report said three northbound lanes were closed. The DOT camera clearly shows only one lane was closed.
Another example was last Friday. There was a SWAT call out was issued for 9500 South Brook. The road was listed as two words, but that road doesn't exist. Even after asking the public information officer at JSO for the correct spelling, she still gave it to us wrong. The street sign at the scene shows it as one word. Action News took the concerns to the sheriff. "You get what we know when we know it," said Sheriff Rutherford.
But when it's taking hours, why isn't the information accurate. "The option is don't put anything out there until we know what we got," said Sheriff Rutherford.
According to JSO's website, "The JSO has a pro-active policy of making timely & accurate information available to the public and news media." We asked the sheriff about the significant inaccuracies and delays in being able to report this. "Well as soon as we get the accurate information we'll report it," said Sheriff Rutherford.
The sheriff says he plans to work with the media to get the information out quickly. If it's not fixed in the next few weeks, you won't know about the crime near where you live. JSO is scheduled to take the radios from the media by the end of August.