Former officer says powerful political player found dead in apparent suicide had unprecedented JSO access

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4JAX I-TEAM has been asking questions as to why a prominent local political donor had badge access to Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office headquarters and multiple other locations for five years.

JSO confirmed last week that Kent Stermon, who visited JSO buildings hundreds of times in that span, was under investigation in the weeks leading up to his apparent suicide at the Mayport Post Office in Atlantic Beach on Thursday night. He was 50 years old.

Four sources told News4JAX the investigation into Stermon stemmed from sexual misconduct allegations.

According to a log from JSO obtained by the I-TEAM, Stermon’s access card stopped being used just a few weeks before his death.

MORE | I-TEAM: High-profile political donor, who was found dead Thursday, had access card to JSO headquarters

Stermon was linked to campaigns for Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Sheriff Mike Williams and current Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters.

News4JAX spoke to retired JSO officer James Brown who said Stermon’s access was unheard of and believes the only way Stermon could come and go from police headquarters is if the sheriff gave him access.

News4JAX asked Brown, a 30-year veteran, if that level of access is normal for someone that is not a current or retired JSO officer.

“From my experience, and when I was employed there, no,” Brown said. “Access is controlled and limited sheriff’s office staff. Retirees are given that access, but even that access is limited.”

“It would raise a suspicion of, why would that person be given that type of access?” Brown said.

Brown said that even if a person works for JSO, they wouldn’t be given as much access as Stermon had.

According to data from JSO, Stermon swiped his JSO access card hundreds of times, including 140 times at JSO headquarters, since 2017.

He also swiped at substations:

ZONE 1 - 1 time

ZONE 2 - 8 times

ZONE 3 - 30 times

ZONE 4 - 8 times

ZONE 5 - 0 times

K9 JSO - 4 times



There was a previous request to JSO for Stermon’s JSO I.D. and key swipes since July 2015. In the response on Aug. 18, undersheriff Pat Ivey said, “After a diligent search, our office has located no records which are responsive to your request.”

Local attorney John Phillips was hired to represent a former JSO officer in a separate case. Phillips questioned Stermon’s access while investigating his client’s case.

“We filed the case, did public records request related to a few different people that were rumored to be doing promotions and demotions unfairly within JSO, within that investigation Kent Stermon’s name repeatedly came up as somebody who ultimately was either making decisions about who was to get promoted or influential in those decisions which was highly unusual and offensive because he’s a private citizen,” Phillips said.

Phillips said several Jacksonville officers have come forward to him. Phillips said he requested the badge log and other information and still has not heard back from JSO.

JSO gave the badge data to News4JAX on Friday.

The criminal investigation into Stermon will continue, even though he’s dead, JSO said. A date for its completion has not been given. According to JSO, it is an ongoing investigation. However, Sheriff Waters said once the investigation is complete the information will be released to the public.

News4JAX asked the Federal Department of Law Enforcement if it was also investigating Stermon, but a statement from FDLE said the agency: “is not involved in any investigation involving Kent Stermon or Total Military Management.”

News4JAX sent a list of questions to JSO about Stermon’s access to JSO over the five-year period this weekend.

JSO responded with this statement on Tuesday:

“There are multiple groups of persons who are not classified as employees, but have been given JSO ID cards granting them access to the building(s).  This list includes, but is not limited to, volunteers/interns, contractors, participants of JSO programs such as Sheriff’s Watch and Police Explorers, local, state, and federal partners, and guests of the Sheriff. As previously stated, the decision to grant Kent Stermon access was a decision made by a previous administration and was revoked upon Sheriff Waters taking office. I would be unable to speak as to the purpose of each of his visits.”

About the Author:

Veteran journalist and Emmy Award winning anchor