Top Cop Spot Up For Grabs

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Photo Courtesy of Soren Brockdorf
Photo Courtesy of Ken Jefferson
Photo Courtesy of John Rutherford
Photo Courtesy of Curtis Southerland

Jacksonville voters will turn out March 22 to cast their ballot for Sheriff. Candidates include current Sheriff John Rutherford, Ken Jefferson, Soren Brockdorf, and Curtis Sutherland.

Jacksonville has been known as the murder capital of Florida for over a decade and, for the past two terms the sheriff office has been headed by Republican John Rutherford.

Sheriff Rutherford is a 36-year-old veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. While former Sheriff Nat Glover was serving his terms, Rutherford served eight years as the first ever appointed Director of Corrections. His law enforcement career consisted of his years as a uniformed patrolman, sergeant and lieutenant.

Rutherford would like the community of Jacksonville to study the growth the city has seen as people tend only to look at the bad rather than at how statistically everything has decreased across the board. The plan is to better market to the community to get the message out that there is something being done about the problems at hand.

“We have to find a way to better market what we do, make the people’s perception of us change,” Rutherford said. “We are reflecting numbers that are as low as they have been since 1983. With our past success I’ve learned to hold our officers more accountable and that comes from leadership; that comes from the responsibility of the chief and sheriff. None of the other candidates in this election have held any ranking, knowledge or skill and the abilities of these.”

Democrat Ken Jefferson offers 24 years of experience in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, was a Federal Program Coordinator, a police recruiter, burglary detective and a sex crimes detective. He has a Master’s Degree in Theology, was the 2006 and 2007 Spokesman of the Year In The State of Florida and won the 2008 Community Crisis Award to list a few of his credentials.

One of the goals Jefferson is emphasizing in this campaign is how he wants to build the trust of community and its police officers, which will hopefully deter the attitude of not snitching.

“There is this kind of code on the streets called don’t snitch, because they don’t trust the police. In the year 2006, 2007 there were 19 police shootings in 18 months. That’s almost one per month, so we have to build that trust back and it’s all about relationships, it’s all about interaction,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson went on to explain the purpose of building those relationships with police officers and how it will better impact the city’s conflicts with crimes.

“All the people see is drive by cops going from call to call,” Jefferson said. “My first priority would be to have them get out of the cars and interact with the community. I will do the same, when time permits; I will drive out to all communities and interact with the people. And crime creates karma, when the crime rate is as high as it is, businesses do not want to come here and that makes less job opportunities.”

Soren Brockdorf, Masters of Business Administration, was a Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer, Clay County Deputy and a Federal Agent. He is also part of the finance committee of Southside Baptist Church.

The message Brockdorf wants voters to get from this campaign is how he plans to make the department more efficient than it is in order to better utilize its resources to ultimately help the community.

“I will make the department 20 percent more efficient, and run like a modern company concerned with costs, eliminate racism and sexism in the department, add 50 new officers to the streets without government grants or additional funds, and drastically reduce the departments costly reliance on fossil fuels,” Brockdorf said.

Curtis Sutherland is the write-in candidate as the other candidates are the only three names listed. Curtis Sutherland is a middle-class business owner and an entrepreneur.
Sutherland plans to make pay cuts as well if elected as Sheriff, with cuts to his position as well.

“I propose a 20 percent pay cut for the salary of Sheriff to show I’m going to do what I say, not just talk like others,” Sutherland said. “I’ll demand the installation of a Civilian Review Board and install all police cars with Dash Cams to prevent abuse and corruption, terminate officers that are corrupt, incompetent, or are a dishonor to the badge while honoring those outstanding members of the force.”