JaxPoliticsOnline.com

Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Push Begins for Police Review Board

A local Facebook group has been formed to build support for an independent commission to review police shootings by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Despite being the target of a tremendous amount of criticism over the high number of shootings, Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford has so far been successful in his efforts to resist the formation of an independent panel to investigate shootings—something the local police union is also opposed to.  

However, news this week that the Sheriff was behind efforts to institute changes to Florida law that will further complicate investigations seems to have sparked a backlash.  The new legislation pushed by Jacksonville’s Sheriff will allow cops to see all the evidence against them before they are interviewed in any investigation.  Police officers will now have a benefit that no private citizens has—the opportunity to speak with fellow officers and review any evidence against them to determine how a story should be relayed to investigators.  These changes could have sweeping consequences—for example, the Tampa officers who were fired after failing to put in a full work week had no idea that they were under GPS surveillance.  Had they known, they would have likely (by their own admission) relayed an entirely different story than the one that they did share with investigators.  

Imagine how this legislation will impact any investigations of police shootings?  Or, of incidents such as the one on Merrill Road where a JSO Officer is suspected of negligence in a crash that killed an innocent 86-year old man.

Up to this point, local ministers and activists have been willing to take the Sheriff at his word that he was working towards greater transparency, but news that he was one of the main authors of this troublesome legislation seems to raise doubts about his commitment.  Whether he will face political repercussions for his support of such controversial legislation remains to be seen.

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Filed under: Jacksonville, , ,

And the new Mayor is…

The 2011 Mayor’s race is starting to get a little crowded. We’ve already discussed Tax Collector Mike Hogan‘s interest in the job here. Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland has long had designs on the Mayor’s Office and that urge has certainly not dissipated. Mr. Holland seems to be operating on the assumption that no major Democrat will enter the race and has been courting the support of the Democratic Executive Committee. Word on the street is that he has approached a certain high profile Jacksonville Democrat to seek their backing. Three current members of the City Council—Daniel Davis, Glorious Johnson and Ronnie Fussell— have expressed interest. Of course, with Mr. Davis and Mr. Fussell being related, one assumes that they wouldn’t challenge each other…it would probably be Mr. Davis who enters the race. Of course, Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford has shown some interest in the past, but that appears to have passed. The real wild card? Former Jaguar Tony Boselli. Mr. Boselli is said to be very interested in a potential bid, something that would place him on a direct collision course with Mr. Davis and Mr. Hogan. That could create a free-for-all that someone like Ms. Johnson could capitalize on…

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , , , ,

JAA and John Clark in new controversy

Jacksonville International [No we don’t have any international flights] Airport’s police are appealing to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to absorb their department, thereby removing them from under the dictatorial powers of high-flying John Clark, whose extravagant expenses and mind-boggling pay were previously discussed here. According to the Times-Union, a new bill is being introduced today that would require Sheriff John Rutherford and John Clark to discuss the merger. More can be learned here.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Jacksonville City Council, , , , , ,

Long-time Jax Crime fighter dies of gunshot wound

The story.

Sheriff John Rutherford, a close friend of Hires’s, went to the home on Old Plank Road and said there is no initial indication that foul play is involved. Rutherford said gun cleaning supplies were discovered at the scene and there is some indication Hires may have been cleaning a gun at the time of his death. Rutherford said police are still searching for a cause and an autopsy will be done.

I have known Mr. Hires for years.  My thoughts are with his family.

Other local blogs are covering the story.

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , , ,

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Violates Open Records Law

Great investigative article from The Florida Times-Union about how local government entities respond to public records requests from “average citizens.”  Having been on the receiving end of some of these violations more than once, I know how frustrating and time consuming it can be for a non-reporter to obtain access to records that Florida law states we have a right to view.

In Duval County, the Sheriff’s Department blatantly violated the law by requiring the individual who requested the public records to complete a form giving their name, address, phone number, etc…

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , , ,

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