Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Behavior Gets Good Rating in Report

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Police Behavior Gets Good Rating in Report

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler, Times-Union staff writer

A committee of community leaders appointed last year by Sheriff Nat Glover to help combat police misconduct has concluded that behavior by Jacksonville police is good, minus a few rotten apples, and programs for early detection of potential problems are necessary to keep the department as clean as possible.

The 10-member committee intends to turn over to Glover today a list of 16 recommendations it hopes will improve the way the Sheriff's Office recruits, hires and disciplines officers, according to a report obtained by the Times-Union yesterday.

Those recommendations range from placing an increased emphasis on background investigations for new applicants to eliminating arbitration, which is a binding form of appeal that can be used by officers who have been recommended for suspension or firing.

Other recommendations include:

-- Enhance the selection process by presenting on-the-job scenarios to applicants.

-- Consider lowering the educational requirement sought by Glover for recruits to have bachelor's degrees in 2002 so the applicant pool could be larger.

-- Increase probation for new hires from a year to 18 or 24 months.

-- Increase ethics training beyond the required eight hours annually.

-- Enhance recognition programs for outstanding employees.

-- Consider adding a member of the public or another police agency to board of officers that hears disciplinary complaints.

"The consensus of the committee was that no major corruption issues or significant systemic breakdowns exist within the human resource management of the JSO [Jacksonville Sheriff's Office]," the report states.

Glover appointed the committee in September as a federal grand jury was investigating allegations of police being involved in murder and robbery. Four former police officers have been charged with crimes stemming from that investigation.

The committee heard from a slate of Sheriff's Office personnel and also reviewed a 1993-94 state grand jury report that found the need for more training and stricter discipline within the agency at the time. …

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