JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- No officers are losing their jobs today, but the head of the local police union is still "too furious to comment" about a lottery being used to determine which uniformed officers will lose their jobs.
Jacksonville Undersheriff Dwain Senterfitt said a class of 28 officers will be ranked from 1-28, and the highest-ranking of those will be the first laid off as the result of budget cuts to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
"If we get to that class, we would start at the top of that list and work our way down it," said Senterfitt.
He says the lottery is the first step in the cuts the Sheriff's Department needs to make.
"We have to identify people, that if we're going to lay people off, who gets laid off," he said.
Because police officers come in as a class, none of them technically have seniority over each other.
He says some members will be given preference for actively serving in the military, but the rest are on an even playing field.
"Out of the group, we have to pick who would go first out of this whole group, we had to lay off one, we have to know who that one is," he said.
The total number of layoffs is not yet finalized.
Senterfitt says he and Sheriff John Rutherford are going through the budget line by line to save as many officer's jobs as they can.
But at the end of the day, some of them will be laid off, which is unprecedented in the city.
"It's never happened in my tenure here. I'm a lifelong resident of Jacksonville, I don't think we have ever laid off police officers here," he said.
While he says they are trying to be fair, it doesn't make it any easier.
"I know the sheriff and I, it wakes us up in the middle of the night thinking about what we're going to have to do, that we're going to have to take somebody's job from them," he said.
Fraternal Order of Police President Nelson Cuba agreed there is no precedent, and didn't know what a more fair option would be.
Military veterans will have preference, Senterfitt said.
Senterfitt did not say which class of officers is affected, but did say it is not the most recent class. A source close to the situation told First Coast News it will be the next-most-recent class.
Senterfitt said the department tried to come up with another solution in lieu of layoffs, but the cuts to the budget made the staff reduction necessary.
First Coast News