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Money for police training in trouble

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Updated: 7/03/2013 11:53 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Some might call it a catch 22.

In 2009, Florida lawmakers made traffic tickets more expensive, but it appears their plan to raise more revenue for the state has backfired.

Three years later, officers statewide are writing fewer tickets and some local officials say the economy is part of the reason why.

"Officers use discretion and especially in tough economic times," says Sgt. Catherine Payne, Community Affairs Coordinator for the St. John's County Sheriff's Office.

Payne says police are issuing more warnings instead of pricey tickets, using their own discretion to determine each individual's situation.

"We do not have any type of policy that we have to meet a quota. We are only required to respond to calls for service, criminal activity, and be proactive when issuing traffic tickets. Each situation is different, and we try to utilize additional resources to help offenders when they need it, like helping parents with no car seats get access to them through another agency."

But Action News has learned that effort could soon be reviewed.

The trust fund that helps pay for specialized and advanced police training statewide is now one-third what it used to be. A portion of traffic tickets and court fees help support that fund. Statewide, crime rates are dropping, and combined with fewer tickets, the fund has dwindled to its lowest point.


That means some advanced and specialized training for officers could be cut next year, and some worry that could affect crime rates in the future.

Payne says the cuts could be devastating in an ever evolving criminal world.

"It is crucial. Obviously training is very important to law enforcement because that translates into us being able to handle situations very effectively and efficiently."

In the past, the fund has provided agencies with as much as $110 per officer, but that will soon be reduced to just $40. Law enforcement agencies are now faced with identifying ways to make up the difference.

"I hope they look at every aspect of it," says W.L. Warner. He worries that police will cut additional officers to help pay for more training, or that he may pay the price if police start writing more tickets.

"I would need to know more about what kind of training is needed before I would want them to cut anything else. But issuing more tickets does concern me! I hope I'm not one of them."

Payne says it's too early to tell how the department will be effected, but says they are looking at every revenue option to keep training going, and public safety a priority.

"I don't think specifically that more tickets will be encouraged or issued. It's not as black and white as just writing a citation...I'm certain overall that public safety is not going to take a hit. We have to train so we'll figure it out."

JSO Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt also issued the following statement Wednesday:


“The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is very concerned about the cuts to funding for officers’ advanced and specialized training, which was just announced. These cuts will not affect state mandated training, accreditation required training, nor policy training. But, historically the training center has also offered a variety of advanced and specialized training to officers in the region. We want officers to have the latest techniques, theories, tactical skill and information available, and these cuts will greatly limit those course offerings.”

A JSO spokesperson also notes that this funding affects regional training centers state wide, and that the Northeast Florida Criminal Justice Training Center serves many law enforcement agencies including, but not limited to, the JSO.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

doug1 - 7/4/2013 10:50 AM
0 Votes
what training? cops only come after the crime. don't depend on others for self-protection. BUY A GUN OR TWO. get a carry permit. doug1

1country - 7/4/2013 8:13 AM
0 Votes
I didn't know ours were trained,don't act like it!!!

Stumpy - 7/4/2013 3:10 AM
0 Votes
The only catch 22 I see in this is the fact generally police consistantly speed on highways and secondary roads. Having been a military police officer myself, I know its against Florida law for any law enforcement officer to speed unless running code. When running code, they're limited to no more than 10 mph over the limit. In addition, before they can run code, they're required to be EVOC certified, meaning that if a police officer hits you, they're general at fault, as they've had advanced vehicle handling. This does not mitigate the requirement to move out of their way when running code. I see no honesty in police writing more tickets. The routinely let other off the hook for violations they'd be more than willing to throw you or I into jail for. This clearly violates the law as well as our civil rights. While some police are very honest and hard working, I've found over the years that most are more than willing to speed regardless of what vehicle they in. When I see one going down the road doing exceeding the speed limit I'll fall in behind, doing the same speed. If they attempt to ticket me, they can explain to their supervisor why I refuse to sign the ticket. Police are regular people just like you and I, so there's no reason to be scare of them, a reaction they expect from the general public. I've had them try scare tactics on me several times to no avail. AND I REFUSE TO SIGN ANY TICKET GIVEN FOR THE PURPOSE OF RAISING MONEY, as this too, is illegal. As an American, I simply refuse to give in to abuses placed on the motoring public by local and state governments when they violate my civil rights. Hence, I keep a Hero camera inside my vehicle will record any officer who pulls me over, as I've the same right to record them as they do me. Don't believe them when they try to tell you otherwise, and they will. Don't get me wrong. For the most part, I've got
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