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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More changes are ahead for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
On Thursday, Sheriff T.K. Waters said he wants to hire 80 new officers and a $35-million budget increase. Now, he is planning on changes to patrol zones.
Details are still somewhat unclear, but Waters told News4JAX it means changes in areas officers are now assigned to. Waters said it will allow JSO to add more patrols to areas that are needed.
Right now, Jacksonville is divided up into six police zones and in each zone there is a substation.
Waters said zones will soon become districts. And it’s not just a name change, but it will impact the number of officers assigned to each area. The sheriff said more information about the changes will come out during a number of town hall meetings next month.
“We want people to get a chance to see what our new districts look like and what they’re going to be like, and ask questions and get a chance to see the maps, what it looks like and the officers that are going to be there, how we got to how we got to where we are, and dividing up our manpower,” Waters said.
Waters said there will be some significant changes so it will take time for officers to get used to.
One area that could see the shift is on the Westside which is Zone 4 right now. Crime has been picking up in that part of town with a number of recent homicides. News4JAX asked people living in that area what they want to see happen.
“Tighten up on 103 Street,” Alberto Marcham said. “There are a lot of activities that are in the area that could be stopped.”
JSO has not yet released the maps to show what changes will take place.
News4JAX Crime and Safety Analyst Lakesha Burton, who was a zone commander for JSO, said it’s a plan that has been discussed in the past.
“This is a part of a component of community policing, really, where you make smaller beats so the officers can get to know that people in the community and the community get to know the officers,” Burton said. “It helps with decreasing the response time and it gives officers accountability for the beat that they patrol.”
But Burton said for this to work the 80 officers the sheriff wants to hire need to be hired. Waters said he actually needs 200 new officers for his plan to really be effective and said that will become clear at the meeting next month.
Waters said the town hall meeting will be on July 19 at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center.
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