JACKSONVILLE, FLA. -- As family and friends of crime victims call for justice for their loved ones, Sheriff John Rutherford said his office is doing the best it can with the resources it has been given.
Rutherford told Action News he will ask for 40 more officers next fiscal year, along with 40 community service officers. The positions had been eliminated in previous years. The sheriff said he is down 147 officers over the past few years.
"Crime, particularly violent crime in this community, was going down in double digits," Rutherford said. "You take those resources away and it's going to begin to have an impact. And I think we're starting to see that impact now."
Friends of Amber Bass, the 22-year-old killed over the summer, held signs outside the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office headquarters and the Duval County Courthouse, demanding that more be done to crack unsolved cases.
"They've been so cooperative, but there's only so much they can do," said Susan Singer, a Bass family friend. "We just feel like there needs to be more people on the streets to stop the murders, and then more detectives for each case."
The sheriff said he met with Mayor Alvin Brown a couple of weeks ago about the need for more officers. The JSO budget for the has been the subject of debate over the past two budget cycles.
"Hiring officers is within the domain of the sheriff, but we support his efforts to fight crime," said Dave DeCamp, director of communications for Mayor Alvin Brown.
Rutherford said he is optimistic that his push for more officers will be successful, as city leaders recognize the correlation between personnel and the crime rate.