A solemn duty I face as mayor is the responsibility of helping our city honor our fallen heroes.
Last week one of our best and brightest, JSO Officer Lance Whitaker lost his life while serving the people of our great city. Every day, men and women across our city put on a uniform and leave their families, and go into our neighborhoods to keep us safe. On his final day, Officer Lance Whitaker did just that.
Our community has heard many stories of his 17 years on the force, he was described as a proud man with a kind heart and contagious smile, and he was filled with compassion, generosity, courage and dedication to duty; he loved family, friends, fishing, golfing, and serving the community where he spent most of his life.
One of his fellow officers described him as a big, tough-looking guy, but that once you engaged him in a conversation his compassion and empathy really shined through. And it didn’t matter if you were a member of JSO or a suspect he just arrested, he had a philosophy: “people are people, and all make mistakes.” His job was to ensure that all were held accountable for their actions.
He was always willing to be a mentor and offer advice; he lived by the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.
When I’m out talking with people at their front doors, the most common concern they share with me is their desire for safer communities and the need for more police officers.
We need more men and women like Officer Whitaker in Jacksonville. We need more individuals in our police force known for their dedication, generous heart, and contagious smile. We need more people who are willing to dedicate 17 years of their life to building stronger, safer communities.
On behalf of the people of Jacksonville, we extend our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of Officer Lance Whitaker. And, to all those who serve, we offer thanks on behalf of a grateful city.