JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Sheriff John Rutherford made the rounds before the crack of dawn getting his message out about the impact of cutting his budget by $8.8 million.
Rutherford appeared on Good Morning Jacksonville to explain the consequences of the council's Finance Committee actions on Thursday.
The sheriff says he has no choice but to layoff more than 100 officers and forgo hiring another 50 officers through the COPS grant program.
Undersheriff Frank Mackesy told First Coast News the Community Service Officer program gives the city value: a way to shore up numbers on the street and keep cops on their beat.
JSO proposes gutting the program that has 92 community service officers who primarily handle traffic control and cover accidents.
"School crossing guards call in sick," explained Mackesy, who said it's a good example of how the service officers help fill the gaps.
"We put CSOs out there. We don't have to take a police officer off the beat to help the kids cross the street. You got to help the kids cross the street."
Community service officers are hired at a starting pay of $25,000 a year. In exchange, they receive experience and schooling to put them on the path to become police officers.
The program has a price tag of $3.3 million.
Sheriff Rutherford says if the the community service officer program is a casuality of budget cuts, people involved in traffic accidents can expect delays in officers responding to their call.
First Coast News