Clay County Sheriff's Office nearly 50 deputies short of state average

There are safety concerns after a local police force said it’s short dozens of deputies.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office estimates needing nearly 50 more deputies just to meet the state average.

Deputies said places such as Middleburg, Clay Hill and Keystone Heights are particularly vulnerable because they don’t have their own police forces.

It’s a concern for Latrese Prince of Middleburg.

“That’s scary,” Prince said.  “That’s really scary to think about, so hopefully, something's done about it soon.”

CCSO said it’s 47 deputies short of the state average in 2019, with just 1.48 deputies for every thousand residents.

The state average is 1.72 deputies for every thousand residents.

To get there, the Sheriff’s Office said it needs 98 deputies by 2025 and 34 more by 2030.

“If we don’t keep up with it, it’s going to be very difficult to provide the services that our community deserves,” said CCSO Public Information Officer Chris Padgett.

Padgett estimates the Sheriff’s Office needs $6 million dollars for staffing.

Action News Jax asked if that could mean a tax increase.

“I don’t mind paying more for my safety, because that’s priceless,” Prince said.

Clay County Commissioner Gavin Rollins tells Action News Jax he believes revenue from the county’s growth will allow them to keep staffing the sheriff’s office at appropriate levels.

As Action News Jax reported last month, leaders say Clay is on track to be the fastest growing county in the entire state.

The County Commission will review this at the end of the fiscal year.

Action News Jax has requested response times from the Sheriff's Office to see if they've been impacted.

Padgett doesn't believe there's been significant change.