JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Sheriff John Rutherford is ready to go before the City Council to once again explain why he needs more money in his budget.
He says he saved close to $11 million this year through cutbacks and layoffs. Now, he wants some of that money back.
He said, "If they were to allow us to keep $10.5 million of that, I will be able to keep the corrections facility open, which is about $4.4 million. And then I'll be able to keep those additional 114 police positions on the street."
When compared to other cities in Florida, JSO has kept crime at a 40 year low, even with fewer officers on the street. Right now, there are 1.95 officers for every 1000 people. Next on the list is St. Petersburg with 2.2 officers. Compare that to Orlando, which has almost three officers for every 1000 people.
"Even with this huge pension cost, and my budget, we're still spending less per capita, a lot less per capita, than any other major city in the state," said Rutherford.
But the Sheriff says the department is already stretched too thin. He says he cannot lay off any more officers without putting public safety at risk. He'll get rid of 71 Community Service Officers and 154 civilian positions. But he says he needs that $10.5 million dollars to keep police officers on the street and to keep the Matrix House up and running.
Action News asked Rutherford, "How optimistic are you?" He replied, "Look, I'm pretty optimistic that the Council understands that, look, we can't lay off 95 police and we do not need to be closing a great drug treatment program." He went on to say, "I think going into this budget, they know exactly where we're at now. And I think they're going to agree to give us our $10.5 million in savings."
The committee meeting begins at 9am at City Hall. Count on Action News for continuing coverage.