The head of the union representing many Jacksonville Sheriff's Office employees is calling out two members of the City Council after a run-in they had with officers last week. The run-in was recorded on police body cameras and the video was shown to a local media outlet.
Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Zona says Councilmembers Reginald Gaffney and Katrina Brown should apologize or resign after the video surfaced of Gaffney being pulled over and Brown accusing police of racial profiling.
The video shows Gaffney being pulled over, apparently because his license plate was reported stolen. Gaffney himself reported the plate stolen in March 2016, after he received tickets for running red lights. Gaffney reported that his car had been parked at 14476 Duval Place W. for auto repairs when he began receiving citations in the mail from red light cameras with his license plate on an unknown vehicle.
In the video, Gaffney said he had no recollection of the plate being reported stolen.
During the stop, Councilwoman Katrina Brown, who was in a separate car, also stops. She accuses the officers of racial profiling. She can be heard saying in the video, “I seen them racial profiling. I seen it myself. So as y’all’s driving, y’all run everybody’s tag you get behind?"
To which the officer responds, "Yes, that's how we find stolen vehicles."
Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Zona took to Facebook after news reports surfaced, calling for an apology or resignation and accusing Gaffney and Councilwoman Katrina Brown of abusing their power:
We remind our members regularly that they represent the best of what the law can offer to our community. We remind them that they are accountable for their actions and that no man or woman is above the law. They in turn work very hard to provide that same message to the community that they risk their lives for. Shouldn't we expect the same from our elected officials?
In a day and age when police are being ambushed, having their lives threatened, and their character assassinated in the public and through the media on a daily basis, it is shameful to see behavior by elected officials that is nothing short of arrogant and which encourages a very dangerous narrative.
Mr. Gaffney and Mrs. Brown, you were both in favor of body worn cameras for increased accountability. Mrs. Brown, your comments specifically alleging racial profiling in a case where it so clearly does not exist is what contributes directly to the very stigma that has been created through lies and false allegations against police around our great nation. You have made yourself known to be among those who would rip us apart at the seams rather than pull us together with such hateful rhetoric.
While you have both shamed your position of public trust and so clearly feel that you exist above the law, we can only hope that you will see the error of your ways and issue a heartfelt and sincere apology to the humble public servants who work so diligently to protect the community that you should also be serving. Rather than calling for tax wasting initiatives like civilian review boards we hope you use this teachable moment to take a more introspective look on the concept of accountability. You both missed an opportunity to set an example of true leadership for all of Jacksonville with your irresponsible behavior and now you have an opportunity to attempt to make it right. If you cannot find it within yourselves to make a public apology to these honorable public servants from the hallowed halls of the Jacksonville City Council then please do your constituency the courtesy of resigning your post in violation of our public faith in you.
Sheriff Williams, please take this opportunity to publicly defend your rank and file against these heinous, and clearly false, attacks on our members. They deserve better than this and they should be able to expect the leadership of their agency to stand firmly, and publicly, behind them.
Steve Zona, President
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5-30
Additionally, Zona released a public statement:
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office released a statement to First Coast News stating that the Sheriff has "no comment on the statements made by the FOP President" and that "the official footage of the traffic stop will be reviewed to determine if all actions of the officers confirmed to our policies and procedures."
First Coast News has also reached out to the FOP and Gaffney and Brown and has not heard back from any of the parties involved at this time.
This is an ongoing story, stay with First Coast News on air and online for updates.