Recent tragic events, both in our country and abroad, have brought terrorism to the forefront of our everyday lives. We have learned that terrorism has no boundaries nor is it selective in when or where it occurs. Today, more than ever we need to stand united and be vigilant to our everyday surroundings. Terror has no place in Alachua County, or this country, and we stand prepared to defend our citizens against those that wish to inflict harm.
Our law enforcement, Department of the Jail and Combined Communications Center personnel are highly trained and ready to respond to any act of terrorism. We constantly train and collaborate with our surrounding counties so that we are prepared for the unexpected. Support staff also play an integral role in our preparedness and response to the citizens we serve. Through this preparation and training we become familiar with one another and ready to work towards a common goal of preventing/stopping terrorism.
We have a highly accomplished, well trained SWAT team that just finished 5th in an international competition. Our bomb team is trained and certified by the FBI. Both are not only ready to respond to an incident in Alachua County but they also assist surrounding counties. We also have Marine Operations, Negotiations Response, Rifle Response, Cell Extraction Response, Crowd Management, K-9 Teams, and other special teams. These units train monthly and also train with one another so that we can stand at the ready 24/7/365.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office has the benefit of great resources for continued education here. Santa Fe College’s Kirkpatrick Center just broke ground on a new $8.1 million dollar expansion. Our Training Bureau works hand-in-hand with Santa Fe College daily. This expansion will not only help new deputies and detention officers be better trained but will allow for additional training opportunities for all of our special teams.
In light of the tragic shooting in California, it is clear that the need for state and local law enforcement to be properly outfitted is greater than ever. As I am sure you saw in the news coverage, law enforcement agencies in the San Bernardino area made use of tactical vehicles, vests and defensive equipment to ensure that their officers could safely pursue the suspects.
On the first week of December, the Florida Sheriff’s Association made a “call to action” to our State and Federal delegates telling them that the Federal Administration issued “guidance” in October that severely limits state and local law enforcement agencies from using federal programs to obtain critical, life-saving, and often otherwise cost-prohibitive equipment. Federal agencies have begun recalling certain equipment, including the types of equipment used in California, while restricting the use of other “controlled” equipment until training policies can be certified. These actions endanger our communities and put our law enforcement officers at unnecessary risk. In my letter as President of the Florida Sheriff’s Association to Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Congressman Ted Yoho, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, I asked them to contact the Appropriations Committees and support stopping the implementation of this “guidance” in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
As your Sheriff, I remain committed to having the best trained, best equipped and most professional law enforcement organization in the country. I ask you as citizens to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity. The best defense against any terror threat is a well-trained defense.
We stand ready with other law enforcement professionals to keep our citizens safe.
THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT RELAUNCHED THE "IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING CAMPAIGN.
Officials encourage anyone who sees suspicious activity to report it to local authorities or call I-855-FLA-SAFE (1-855-352-7233). It can also be reported online through FDLE’s website at www.fdle.state.fl.us.
Sheriff Sadie Darnell
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