Jacksonville City Council member Reggie Gaffney apologized to the entire city, his colleagues, Northside constituents and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office for his behavior during a traffic stop incident first reported by our partner News4Jax.
“I say that from my heart,” he said. “I have and always have the utmost respect for the men and women in uniform that keep our city and streets safe.”
Fraternal Order of Police President Steve Zona had asked Gaffney and another council member involved in the incident, Katrina Brown, to apologize to police or resign.
He accepted Gaffney’s apology Tuesday.
“It takes a big man to stand up here at city council chambers in front of God and country,” Zona said. “I think that was a genuine and heartfelt apology.”
Video of the incident, given to News4Jax by an unnamed source shows Gaffney asking “Do you know who I am?” Afterward he told News4Jax he felt intimidated by the officers.
During the stop Brown pulled up in her own car and said officers were profiling Gaffney, who was driving with a license plate he had reported stolen more than a year ago. Gaffney told News4Jax he had forgotten the report, but hasn’t returned calls to WJCT to explain how he recovered the tag.
Zona said officers conducted a professional traffic stop and Sheriff Mike Williams agreed with Zona on that point during a Wednesday press conference.
“I had the opportunity to review the video and I have to say the officers did a good job in a very challenging situation,” Williams said.
Brown, however, didn’t apologize for pulling up and voicing her concerns about the stop.
“I want to say to my colleagues that I don't think I did anything wrong,” Brown said. “I’m not going to apologize.”
Brown said she’s felt intimidated by FOP. She said she was attacked for questioning the Sheriff’s Office about the mayor’s budget request of 100 new officers during the finance committee.
“As an elected official I am responsible for the constituents I represent and I am supposed to ask questions,” Brown said Tuesday.
Zona said he never attacked Brown, but did encourage FOP members to email Brown after she said she felt targeted by a JSO poll supporting the additional officers. Other council members also voiced concern with the poll.
“She’s basically labeling us as racists,” Zona said of Brown.
After Brown didn't apologize Zona told News4Jax, “If she won’t apologize then she’s not fit to serve. She’s more of a problem here in Jacksonville than she is part of the solution and I stand by that. She needs to go.”
Brown was present during the majority of Tuesday’s council meeting, but left before a vote on the city’s budget, which included the additional 100 police officer positions.
Brown said she thinks the conversation should be focused on how the traffic stop tape was leaked, saying she feels like her rights were violated when she pulled over to voice her concerns as a citizen.
Williams said the video is public record but said JSO will be looking into the policy standpoint of how it was released.
Zona sent out a statement Monday calling for JSO’s Integrity unit to examine if Gaffney was abusing the official reporting system. Gaffney had reported his plate stolen after receiving several red light camera citations.
Williams said Wednesday JSO would try to dig into the situation.
“There’s still a lot of unknowns there,” Williams said.