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by Peter Moskos

March 22, 2011

Ken Jefferson for Jacksonville Sheriff

Ken Jefferson of Jacksonville, Florida, that is. Now I've never met Ken Jefferson and I've never been to Jacksonville, but I did get this email from a professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville:
I thought you might like this story from my class, an Intro to Communication Class. The context is students are presenting brief plans for change and asking the legislative body (the class) to debate its merits along the conventional problem, cause, solution logic path.

A 17-year Navy veteran, African-American student from North Jacksonville (heavily black and where most crime takes place in Florida's most dangerous city) relates how he was at the barbershop with the barbershop crowd and in walks Ken Jefferson, a 24-year veteran of the JSO (Jacksonville consolidated city & county governments 40 years ago) who was challenging the incumbent sheriff in Tuesday's election.

Now, I was already impressed that this guy was taking his campaign to the barbershop, and so was my student. But then he started explaining what Jefferson's plan for change was in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office: bringing back foot patrols.

And so that was this guy's plan, shifting money from vice and gambling investigation to fund foot patrols.... And the whole class (or at least the black/lower class folks) are nodding their heads saying yes that's just what we need and then someone says "can we get them bicycles" and I just lost it....

[And I loved] the beautiful moment of a man practicing what he's preaching by promoting foot policing in the corner barbershop.
I immediately donated $50 to his campaign. But it will do little to even the odds: Jefferson has raised $18,000 compared to the incumbent's $203,000.

I think the election is today. So all you Jacksonville readers (er... well, there's at least one) get out there and vote for Jefferson!

[Update: Jefferson lost, with 37% of the vote.]


Anonymous said...


I've re-written this question several times due to poor phrasing, but this is the best I can do:

"Do you think that a greater emphasis on foot patrol and 'knowing your beat' is more a matter of time passing by as boots and rookies enter policing with a different perspective and older less apt to change senior officers retire? Or do you think that foot patrol use will always be an exception? Isn't it cheaper if a reliable foot patrol with his/her ear to the ground gathers information can possibly solve the same issue vs a large overtime intensive gambling investigation?"

I sincerely hope that made sense.
Hope that makes sense.

PCM said...

I'm not optimistic about the chances of a return to foot patrol on any large scale. But actually you tend to see support for it among the older cops who may actually remember it. And the younger cops could be ordered to do whatever the brass wants.

Those who have walked foot, myself included, know a cop in a car is more out of touch than one walking, listening, and observing.

But there's a lot of institutional inertia out there. And the public has been sold a false bill of goods related to 911 and rapid response.

Hell, maybe foot patrol wouldn't work. But it would be nice if at least one jurisdiction would try it again for real.