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Mayor Curry proposes to expand J.S.O. budget despite citizen demands to defund police; S.D.S. responds

Darvin Nelson, Features Editor

Mayor Lenny Curry has proposed a budget of 1.34 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. 

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams wants $6 million more dollars for the J.S.O. budget, making a total of $481 million dollars. Williams wants to hire 40 new officers and says he has a shortage of 100 correction officers, according to News4Jax.

$481 million dollars is roughly one third of Curry’s budget, according to First Coast News.

“With this budget, I maintain a top spending priority for public safety. As in past years, this includes men and women who wear the uniforms and protect all of us. For example, we have included funding for renovations to fire stations as well as for brand new stations,” Curry said to Action News Jax. “We’re adding important emergency response vehicles and equipment. But this budget also includes prevention and intervention programs like Cure Violence and youth programs like the Kids Hope Alliance.”

Increased pensions and salaries, and new tech, such as Shotspotter and the NIBIN database, are all part of the mayor’s investment. 

Shotspotter is a system of algorithms and artificial intelligence that detect gunfire for police. NIBIN (National Integrated Ballistic Information Network) is a program that automates ballistics evaluations and provides investigation leads.

Spinnaker reached out to UNF’s Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) for a comment (Spinnaker reached out to UNF College Republicans and J.S.O., but they failed to comment):

Mayor Lenny Curry has proposed another increase to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (J.S.O.) budget for 2020-2021.  J.S.O. currently receives 40% of the city budget, but only 31.5% of the homicide rates in Jacksonville are solved. Students for a Democratic Society at UNF stands strongly against the mayor’s proposed budget, and we demand that the budget is reallocated to the community and infrastructure.”

Sheriff Williams “said the increase in funding is necessary because of the effect of protesters and unrest has had on the department. In his request to the City of Jacksonville, he said $5.5 million would go toward patrol costs,” according to News4Jax.

“UNF SDS stands with the Jacksonville Community Action Committee’s (JCAC) proposed People’s Budget; which rejects JSO’s $6.1 million increase in exchange for decreasing JSO’s budget from 40% to 20% of Jacksonville’s total budget,” wrote SDS. “We unite with the demand to reinvest these funds into the community – creating comprehensive mental health first responders, repairing infrastructure, and improving our schools. Mayor Lenny Curry should prioritize every resident of Jacksonville and our public works projects to tackle the core problem that leads to crime – putting profit over people’s lives. We also firmly support and promote the demand for community control of the police, which creates a Police Accountability Council controlled by the citizens to create transparency and accountability within police investigations.”

“Now is the time for students to join the fight against police brutality, and stand in solidarity with oppressed students. We also encourage students to get involved in their local communities and join organizations, such as the JCAC, and demand for community control of the police and redistribute their city budget back to the community.”

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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