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First Coast Connect

Friday Media Roundtable: Donald Trump, police misconduct, back to school, cooling centers

Duval school buses are ready to roll.
Claire Heddles
Jacksonville Today
Duval school buses are ready to roll.

Our media panel today discusses the biggest news of the week, including the indictment of former President Donald Trump, police misconduct, back-to-school vacancies and Jacksonville cooling stations.

Joining us are Nikesha Williams, founder at NEW Reads Publications; David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union, Steven Ponson of WJCT News 89.9; and Dan Scanlan, also of WJCT News 89.9.

Police misconduct

An Internal Affairs Investigation conducted by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office concluded Officer Justin Peppers has “demonstrated a history of repeated infractions of JSO orders.” Of the 21 complaints against him, only three have been sustained.

In one case, a video shows Peppers pulling a complying military veteran from his vehicle, handcuffing him while kneeling on his back, and even referring to the man as Mr. Black Man. Peppers made the stop over a potential tinted windows violation. Peppers has been reassigned to a different patrol zone.

This type of aggression is not new. What message is this sending to the community?

Back to school

Duval County teachers head back to their classrooms Monday to prepare for the return of students Aug. 14.

Students can expect transportation delays as there are 49 vacancies for bus drivers. The district also has 258 teacher vacancies, which is about half of the number of vacancies from last year.

Cooling centers

The First Coast has experienced extreme heat this summer. Mayor Donna Deegan, along with the Heat Task Force, rolled out a new Excessive Heat Incident Plan. The plan designates six locations across Jacksonville as cooling centers during heat emergencies. 

JTA buses will be used as cooling buses in the event of a heat emergency. And JTA will provide complimentary transportation to folks seeking relief at the cooling centers.

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Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where, as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. You can reach Randy at or on Twitter, @rroguski.