Should married JSO officers be able to work together off duty?

Arrest of Jacksonville officer prompts questions on JSO policies

By Lynnsey Gardner - Investigative reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The arrest of a Jacksonville police officer accused of beating a handcuffed teenager over the weekend has prompted questions about the officer's employment history.

News4Jax discovered that in a similar incident reported in April, Officer Tim James' wife -- a fellow officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office -- was listed as a witness on the police report.

That raises red flags for News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith, a former JSO officer.

“Within the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, married couples are not allowed to supervise each other or, in other words, a wife could not supervise her husband. When I left the sheriff's office, my wife was a lieutenant, and I was an officer. She could not supervise me.”

Smith said that beyond not supervising spouses, it's also not smart for married couples to patrol together, because it creates an ethical and emotional dilemma.

“More importantly, in my opinion, sometimes people say very bad things to a police officer,” Smith said. “If someone says that to a female police officer I am not emotionally attached to, I may handle that differently then if someone said that to my wife.”

James, who is out on bond, was charged with battery in connection with the beating of Elias Campos, who James said spit on him.

While working off-duty alongside his wife in April, James was involved in a similar incident that was caught on camera. He could be seen forcibly taking a man to the ground outside a hospital, after James said the man spit on him.

His wife, Kathleen James, backed up his story in the police report. Both were in uniform while working their second job, a common practice for officers to make more money.

Smith said he doesn't believe JSO has an additional policy against married couples working together off-duty, which he said creates a troublesome loophole.

“Even still, I just don't think it's a good idea for husband and wife to work together, because it could change your judgment,” Smith said.

News4Jax requested an interview with Sheriff Mike Williams, but were told that he has no further comment.

We also asked JSO if they have a policy about married couples working off-duty jobs together, but the department has not yet responded.

News4Jax is also waiting for JSO to respond to a request for Tim James' employment history with the department.

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