Sheriff T.K. Waters says JSO’s goal is ‘to make every member of Duval County safe’

New sheriff of Jacksonville holds news conference, introduces Command Staff members

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters outlined his agency’s plans to make the city a safer place to live and introduced some of his staff members during a news conference Tuesday.

The news conference was held two days after Waters was sworn into office on Sunday.

While crime in Jacksonville is not at an all-time high, it is increasing, and that has many worried. Waters said the goal of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is “to make every member of Duval County safe” and to ensure Jacksonville continues to grow into the city “that we know it can be.”

“How are we going to do it? We’re going to hold criminals accountable. If you come to Jacksonville, you decide you want to commit crime or if you live here, you want to commit crime, we’re going to hold you accountable. We’re going to build trust and partnership with our community through transparency and strong, strong, strong outreach. We’re going to focus on our police and our corrections and our civilian staff who are the backbone of this agency and make it run. We’re going to redeploy our patrol officers using current population maps, focusing on making our patrol areas, areas of responsibility smaller for faster response times and work closer with our community,” Waters said. “We’re going to grow our police department, corrections force to match the growing needs of Jacksonville and its community. Jacksonville is the largest city in the continental United States and the 12th largest in the nation by population. Our agency must continue to grow with it.”

UNCUT: Press the play button below to watch Sheriff Waters’ entire news conference.

Right now, Jacksonville is divided into six Patrol Zones. But the sheriff is looking to make some changes to that and divide up the zones by population.

“It’s going to allow us to get closer to our community. It may end up being even larger zones or another zone, but it’s going to allow us to get closer to our community and work in smaller areas of responsibility to be able to deliver quicker and more efficient service,” Waters said. “And when you do that, you build relationships, you get stronger because people are able to see you more.”

UNCUT: Press the play button below to watch Sheriff Waters’ entire news conference.

That’s one reason why he was flanked by his staff member at Tuesday’s news conference — so residents can get to know them. Waters introduced some of the leaders on the JSO Command Staff — the officers who will oversee departments and carry out his vision for JSO. They are also heading up the departments that the new sheriff believes will address crime in the city.

Department of Patrol and Enforcement Director Joe Cowan is a 26-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office. Waters said he is a major general currently serving in the United States Army.

Zone 5 Assistant Chief Jonathan Barrier has 15 years with JSO and is currently serving as a major in the U.S. Army.

Community Engagement Assistant Chief Morris Halyard has spent more than 13 years at the Sheriff’s Office and is a former Army Ranger.

Then there’s Assistant Chief Edwin Cayenne, of JSO’s Narcotics and Vice section, who Waters said passed on the FBI because “he loves Jacksonville and his agency”

“I have one problem,” Waters said. “He’s a Jets fan. We got to fix that. Don’t like that here.”

News4JAX later got a chance to ask Cayenne, a 24-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, about his decision to choose JSO over the FBI.

“When I attended the Academy in Quantico, Virginia, I learned so much more, and I had a greater appreciation for the men and women that deal with local law enforcement and the problems and the challenges that we have to overcome,” Cayenne said. “So with that being said, there was an opportunity that presented itself, so what I did was I stepped away from the FBI to rejoin the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.”

And Assistant Chief Dan Shelton is a chief of JSO’s Property Crime section and Investigations division. He has more than 18 years of service with JSO. Waters said Shelton also spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy and was a senior chief.

“I highlight those individuals because I want Jacksonville to know that we’re full of servant leaders,” Waters said. “This agency is going to thrive. It’s going to move forward, and we’re going to take care of the city the way shouldn’t be taken care of.”

Waters said the Command Staff has more than 1,000 years of law enforcement experience combined.

“It’s a very important point. The current staff of the JSO, the Command Staff, makes up 1,002 years of law enforcement experience. That’s 1,002 years of law enforcement experience,” he said. “And we are going to do and that’s what’s necessary to make sure that every member of this community is safe.”

Waters won a special election to the position earlier this month. Interim-Sheriff Pat Ivey on Thursday announced his plans to retire from JSO at the end of the week. He was appointed after Mike Williams stepped down, retiring last June amid a residency scandal.

Sheriff answers viewers’ questions

News4JAX asked viewers what they would ask the new sheriff and got a chance to present those to Waters on Tuesday. One question was what does he plan on doing about all the killings in Jacksonville?

“We’re going to work hard to stop them, and the best way to work hard to stop them is put officers out on the streets and we do proactive policing because it’s necessary. At the same time, build partnerships with our community,” Waters said. “I worked 10 years in homicide, right? Ten and a half years in homicide. We can’t solve homicides without community support, people calling in and telling us what happened. If we build the right kind of community support, we will be able to do that.”

Another question was what does Waters plan to do about aggressive drivers in the city?

“Aggressive drivers, so I just appointed the new chief of Patrol Enforcement over our Patrol Support,” he said. “She’s building our Traffic Unit in a direction so we can focus more proactively on aggressive drivers and those types of things.”

There was also this question: Since JSO’s current approach is clearly not working, what specifically does he plan to change to reduce violent crime in the city?

“Again, so, you know, when you say it’s not working, if I take a guy who’s committed five murders off the street, and he can’t commit five more, it’s working. Now, what we have to do is we have to focus on those gentlemen, or women, that are determined to go out and commit violent crime over and over and over again. We’re going to focus on those folks. We’ll try outreach. We’ll talk to them. But when it comes down to it, if you decide you want to commit violent crime in our community, it’s not tolerable,” Waters said. “So it does work. We just have to get the extras that rise up, and we’re going to focus on those.”

About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.