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Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford Explains Layoffs, New Reality for JSO

2:49 PM, Oct 5, 2011   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Emergency calls will be handled the same, but other calls to the sheriff's office will have a slower response time, the sheriff said today as he detailed recent layoffs of uniformed officers.

Sheriff John Rutherford held a news conference at noon today to detail the layoffs that followed a budget cut and legal action from the police union.

MORE: Summary of JSO Budget Cuts

"I am incredibly proud of the character that I have seen exhibited by 77 employees of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office who I have had the unfortunate responsibility of laying off in the last two days," Rutherford began.

He said the 77 layoffs consisted of 48 officers and 29 civilians, from Community Service Officers to a stable manager.

In addition, Rutherford said he has unfunded 52 more positions that were either vacant or made vacant by reorganization.  Of those 52, 23 were officer positions.

"The least significant negative impact upon public safety" was his goal in deciding who would be laid off, and he said the officers were from the last two recruiting classes.

Rutherford said these cuts were necessary because of $4.4 million taken from the JSO budget by the city council after Rutherford had submitted a budget that included $7.5 million in cuts and a reduction of 19 civilians and 41 officers.

He said he wants them back, and that he knows how to get them back.

"Yes...it's that simple," Rutherford replied, when asked if the police union agreeing to a 2 percent pay cut would do it.

Nelson Cuba, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, has said Rutherford could find the cuts elsewhere, without needing a pay cut or a reduction in force.  Rutherford said he already has cut everything he could, and that he does not have the redundancies Cuba believes him to have.

Rutherford took his case to the officers at their roll call meetings in September, and Cuba responded by filing a legal action against him.

The sheriff today said that legal action was "summarily dismissed" this week.

He said he spoke to Cuba as the layoffs were occurring, and Rutherford said he told Cuba, "Until my salary expenses meet my salary revenue, these layoffs have to remain."

Not only that, Rutherford said, but 34 more layoffs could come by March if he is unable to save over a million dollars by privatizing the JSO fleet.

The bottom line? "We won't be doing some of the things we used to do in the past," Rutherford concluded.

MORE: Jacksonville Budget for 2009

MORE: Jacksonville Budget for 2010

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