Law enforcement preparing for busy Florida-Georgia weekend in Jacksonville

Friday at noon, festivities kick off for the Florida-Georgia game, which draws in tens of thousands of visitors to the city.

To help keep everyone safe and ease the minds of attendees, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office will have safety measures in place.

Earlier this week, Chief Ellis Burns of JSO’s special events division addressed this topic. At a news conference, he said there will be undercover detectives and uniformed officers at scheduled events.

Thursday afternoon, News4JAX spoke with tailgaters at RV City and a nearby RV parking lot. Many told us safety isn’t usually something they think about when coming to the Florida-Georgia game, because having a good time, is what they’re focused on. But they did say they felt secure seeing JSO around.

“We feel safe in here because the sheriff’s department makes sure that we are,” Levon Kitchen said.

Kitchen said he’s been coming to the Florida-Georgia game since 2012 and has always felt that way.

Casey Harris and her husband Jonathan Harris echoed the same sentiment. The two met at a Florida-Georgia game ten years ago, and now have two kids.

Jonathan said the police make him feel more at ease, especially having children with him. However, he said before having his children he didn’t always think about what was happening at the weekend’s events.

“When I was younger, no,” Jonathan said. “But now with these two, yes. These two aren’t staying here Friday night into Saturday.”

News4JAX reached out to JSO through email to ask them if more undercover detectives or uniformed officers would be at this weekend’s events, following the mass shooting in Maine. As of Thursday evening, we were waiting to hear back.

We also asked attendees at RV City if the recent shooting in Maine concerned them, especially heading into a large game like Florida-Georgia.

Robert Ethridge said, “Not me, personally. I’m sure it does with other people, but from my standpoint, no.”

“Don’t think about it,” Andrew Coggins said. “Don’t worry about it. We pray that it don’t happen. But like I’ve said we’ve seen the police riding around so I feel safe.”

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