Information is slow to come from the police

It’s a good thing I didn’t ask a hard question.

Three months ago, I made a public records request to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. In Request M360482-072723 I asked “Could I have the number of budgeted sworn, non-civilian, non-correctional officers for the years 2016 through 2020, please?”

This is a question someone in the budget or personnel sections should be able to answer off the top of their head.

In the past, I would have called one of those people for the answer and gotten it in minutes or hours, not months..

Today, the police are locked down and insulated from the public and the media.

They talk a lot about openness and transparency, but those traits pale by comparison with the days when Dale Carson was sheriff.

Reporters no longer roam the halls of the police headquarters, or substations. They don’t call people other than “media specialists” who may or may not respond.

And, while we have gotten responses to public records requests, the most recent example is an indication that the sheriff’s office today is about as transparent as the bottom of the St. Johns River.

Why should it matter to the public? For better or worse, people depend on the media to collect and disseminate information about government. If the media can’t get the information, it can’t be disseminated.

I’m sure the police would claim they don’t have enough money to gather all the information requested.

Easy solution. Open the department back up and allow reporters to talk to the people who have the information.

It is especially irritating because Eye on Jacksonville supports the police.

The information I requested was pertinent because the police keep asking for more manpower and getting it, at considerable expense. But the information we do have indicates they are getting fewer calls for service and arresting fewer people.

So, why do they need more police?

Simple question. But we can’t get an answer and the people on the City Council who are supposed to provide oversight don’t seem interested in asking.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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