Candidate Profile: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Candidate Tony Cummings

Feb 28, 2019

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams’ Democratic challenger Tony Cummings is a former JSO officer and Army officer. He says JSO needs to change course to reduce violent crime and rebuild the public’s trust.

On WJCT’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross Thursday, Cummings said police need to be more transparent and do a better job of community policing.

“Trust has been broken between the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and many of the high crime areas for years,” he said.

Cummings said it’s time to give officers a new mission: “That mission is to make sure they make contact with the citizens on a daily basis, not just — you know —  at their homes, but in the businesses that that are around the neighborhood so they can learn their names, their first names.”

He said he wants to take a portion of officers and assign them to high-crime areas as bicycle and walking officers and is open to copying what Orlando did in the 1980s by pairing a white and black officer together to rebuild trust in JSO.

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He's also calling for a citizen-led review board and public accountability office.

“Part of respecting the community is listening to the community and allowing them to tell you how to best in that $439 million in taxes that you pay to better safeguard their community,” he said.

One caller to the program asked Cummings for his thoughts on issuing teens civil citations as opposed the criminal charges.

He said he’s a “huge proponent” of civil citations.

“I want to make sure that all civil citations remain at about 75- to 80 percent issuance consistently to give those the youth a second chance,” he said.

Steve Zona, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police, tweeted at the show to question Cummings’ claims of corruption in the JSO and wanted him to explain how and when Cummings reported that corruption to internal affairs.

Cummings said his opponent, current Sheriff Mike Williams, sent six of his supporters to investigate Cummings on a case six months before Cummings’ retirement, though he did not elaborate on this when pressed. He also said he saw an administrator’s’ getting special treatment versus line officers by avoiding punishment for failing to immediately report a car crash.

Cummings, a Democrat, is trailing far behind the Republican incumbent in polls.  

The first city election is March 19th. Candidates who fail to garner more than 50 percent of the vote plus one will advance to a May runoff.

Sheriff Williams has also been invited to appear on First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.

Amanda Brannon can be reached at newsteam@wjct.org, 904-358-6317.