CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels is taking casual Friday to a new level.
Daniels started a voluntary uniform policy called Boots and Jeans Friday, which is less about fashion and more about paying tribute to a time when, Daniels said, more people had respect for law enforcement.
So now, every Friday, Clay County sheriff’s deputies will be allowed to wear cowboy boots, blue jeans and a badge. They can even wear cowboy hats, if they’d like.
It’s a look that used to strike fear in criminals, Daniels said.
"(It’s) a tribute to quiet times, when folks would recognize who the sheriff was (or) who the deputies were," Daniels said. "They respected the sheriff and the deputies -- and the folks who were committing crimes feared those people. And that’s what I’m trying to bring back."
Boots and cowboy hats were part of the uniform in the 1800s and early 1900s. Daniels researched the former sheriffs who wore the ensemble.
"I wanted to know where the men whose shoulders I stand on have come from, and what direction they were taking the county in," Daniels said. "It gives me a guideline of where I should be going."
While walking through the Green Cove Springs neighborhood, neighbors took note of the new look.
"I love it," one resident said with a laugh. "I appreciate that. I think he looks pretty serious and that’s what we need."
But don’t mistake Daniels for a Texas Ranger.
"There won’t be too many weeks that go by and folks change their opinion about (the) Texas Ranger, and they say, ‘He looks like the Clay County Sheriff.’ They will be more proud of that fact (than) anything they know about a Texas Ranger," Daniels said. "I want them to be proud of Clay County, not something they think they know about Texas."
It’s safe to say, Daniels takes his job seriously.
"I am the sheriff," he said. "I’m nobody special. I’m just a guy who’s trying to make a difference in a short period of time that he has in life. Life is so short and we have an obligation to (do) all we can to make other people’s lives better, and in this role, it’s my duty to make sure we’re keeping the people of Clay County safe and the people of Northeast Florida safe."
Boots and jeans are permitted on Fridays only, and the outfit is voluntary, Daniels said.