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Clay County family moved by encounter with deputy

Deputy Ryan Perry showed up for an alarm call, but stayed for a round of hoops

OAKLEAF, Fla. – It’s a moment an Oakleaf man won’t soon forget: how a Clay County deputy answering a call about his home security alarm wound up putting a smile on his son’s face.

Deputy Ryan Perry was called to Jarvis Smith’s home Friday after getting an alert from the family’s security company that there was an alarm going off at the Smith residence.

“I was rushing into the house and I cut the alarm off,” Smith, a father of three, said. “I had to use the restroom, so I guess I hit the code the wrong way, but I guess it went silent.”

Smith’s children – Jordan, Janay and Dallas – were playing outside when Perry showed up.

“Deputy Ryan was pulling up and I was wondering why the sheriff was in the neighborhood. I was like, ‘What is going on here?’ and he said the alarm was going off and ADT tried calling the phone,” Smith recalled.

Smith said the deputy was polite, professional and understanding. But it was what he did as he left that really struck a chord with the family. The deputy squared off against Smith’s son in a game of one-on-one hoops using only the sidewalk and cul de sac and his imagination.

“It touched me,” Smith said. “This is like something that needs to be seen in these times – to put positive images of our police officers in the community.”

Smith uploaded the 30-second video clip to Facebook, where it has been shared more than 1,000 times, including by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office’s page, since the weekend.

I did not turn off my alarm system properly when I got home yesterday and Officer Ryan showed up. Once he made sure...

Posted by Jarvis D. Smith on Saturday, June 6, 2020

“I felt a sense of pride,” the father said. “I felt that as a black man, I should have my first thought about police be negative. It should be positive. So, how do we change that to become from a negative thing to a positive thing?”

Smith’s son, Jordan, put it more simply. “I was just playing basketball with him,” he said. The 8-year-old boy said he’s not afraid of the current events he’s seen on TV. “No, I am not afraid,” he said. “I just think that it should just stop.”

Smith hopes the interaction with Perry, who’s been with the Sheriff’s Office for 18 months, can have a lasting impact on his son as he grows up.

“It is tough sometimes being a black man and having to experience some of these things,” he said. “I don’t want to ruin their feelings on how they’re seeing the world. Right now, he feels good about police, he sees a positive image of a police officer. I want him to have that positive image of police when he is 18, 28 and 38.”

We reached out to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and we are waiting to hear back.


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