City council votes to add more police officers to focus on downtown safety
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Beach City Council voted Monday evening on a proposal calling for the addition of four police officers.
The council voted unanimously during the public meeting to approve the proposal.
The city's current force has 61 officers. Mayor, Charlie Latham says the new officers could be on the streets by August.
You can read the full agenda, including a breakdown of proposed costs, by clicking here.
Timothy Pond, 20, proudly calls Jacksonville Beach home.
"I love living at the beach. It's great! Everything's great here," he said.
FCN found Pond biking downtown. Pond said he doesn't think there's a security problem downtown.
"But, there's definitely a need for more officers," he said.
It said in 2013, JBPD responded to 48,548 calls for service across the city.
More than 25 percent of those calls were in the downtown "Community Redevelopment district."
More than half (52 percent) of the arrests came from that area.
The document says "most of the crimes committed in the downtown area are quality of life crimes." For example, drinking in public, public urination and "excess alcohol consumption leading to related disturbances."
The city's council proposal includes spending $303,824 on personnel for the first year to add three police officers and one sergeant to its downtown cape program.
The new cape officers focus on downtown safety.
"I would agree with that. I would say that's a good move," Pond said.
Pond remember's last year's Memorial Day beach brawl.
"It was a little dramatic," Pond said. "I saw it on the news. I was actually on the beach during it."
"I think people keep looking at that one anomaly and they think that's the reason things keep happening," said Sonny Bhikha, General Manager of the Four Points hotel in downtown Jacksonville Beach. "That's just an anomaly."
Latham tells FCN the proposal is not because of that incident nor any others but, because of the city's growth and increasing tourism.
So, how much would this cost you as a taxpayer?
Latham said it would cost nothing because money would come from a separate fund.
Bhikha, told FCN he supports the proposal.
"It's in the right direction that we're going with this thing. We're not trying to say that this is an unsafe neighborhood. Because it is not. It's improved in the right direction."