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In a case of perception being greater than reality, Historic City News has learned that St Johns County Sheriff David B. Shoar has been found inconsistent in the enforcement of what he calls a “non-negotiable” core value for his +600 civilian and sworn employees.
On the home page of the www.sjso.org website, Shoar declares unequivocally that “integrity is a non-negotiable core value”, meaning that honesty, truthfulness, and veracity must be overarching in all dealings with all appointees, at all times, whether on or off duty.
“Value Statement: Our core values are non-negotiable: Integrity. Treating people with dignity and respect.”
Much of the sheriff’s effectiveness hinges on that core value. When Sheriff Shoar stands before the television cameras and civic groups at election time and during his term in office and asks the public to believe he’s being truthful, he can’t have cases of “selective honesty” hanging over his head.
Most recently, Historic City News was made aware of an Internal Affairs investigation into the actions of 58-year-old William J. Jones, a non-enforceable judicial process server who has been employed by the sheriff’s office for twelve-years as of this October, and is paid $37,997.02 each year, plus benefits.
In this case, Shoar’s internal affairs deputies completed an investigation of Jones, finding four charges of violations of published department policy. Those charges were sustained by witness statements, interviews, video evidence, and an independent review of the facts.
The narrative of the investigation, which concluded June 13, 2016, addressed several complaints against Jones that were initiated by Merrill Roland and Tom Reynolds, and referenced earlier Internal Affairs Investigations, 2011-007-AI-2 and 2014-046-AI-2.
The basis of Roland’s complaint was a conversation he had with Jones and a mutual acquaintance who is an elected member of the Anastasia Mosquito Control District. Roland says the mutual acquaintance informed him that Jones gave him a warning that Roland “shot a man in the face”, was a “very bad guy” and he “can’t be allowed to become an elected official”.
Detective Kunovich contacted the Anastasia Mosquito Control District member to confirm the details of the conversation with Jones. However, because he is running for re-election, he declines to confirm or deny the details of the conversation. That complaint had to be closed.
The Reynolds complaint centered around Jones’ comments during a public meeting where two public speakers had criticized the choice of St Augustine Beach Commissioner Andrea Samuels for Tourist Development Council.
Jones timecard showed him off duty at the Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday May 3, 2016, from 2:45 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Internal Affairs said that the meeting on May 3, 2016, was from 3:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.
“Jones, while speaking at the meeting, did not represent himself as an employee of the Sheriff’s Office and was wearing civilian attire,” Internal Affairs Detective Michael P. Kunovich wrote in his report. “Jones’ statements were political in nature and his remarks about Reynolds were ambiguous at best.”
Watch the replay of Jones’ comments and decide for yourself if his remarks about Mr. Reynolds are “ambiguous”.
“I don’t know if it’s because she’s a strong-willed woman, or Jewish, I don’t know,” Jones is heard to say. “But she’s the only one they seem to be picking on.”
Also at issue, Jones’ apparent dishonest reporting of telephone calls and inter-department communications in connection with his efforts to obtain a copy of an e-mail complaint against him. Jones’ statements about how he obtained the complaint from the St Augustine Beach Police Department were inconsistent with witness statements and phone records.
From the conclusions of the investigation:
As it pertains to Policy 26.1. 7 (2.28) “Performing any acts or making any written or verbal statements which tend to bring the SJSO into disrepute or ridicule or which tend to interfere with the reasonable supervision or proper discipline of the SJSO.” (LEVEL TWO VIOLATION) The finding is “SUSTAINED”.
It should be noted William Jones was previously sustained for bringing the SJSO into disrepute 2011-007-AI-2.
As it pertains to Policy 26.1.7 (3.19) “Flagrant or repeated violations of rules or disregard for proper community customs or ethics.” (LEVEL THREE VIOLATION) The finding is “SUSTAINED”.
As it pertains to Policy 26.1.7 (3.S) “Employees or volunteers are prohibited from using their SJSO position in any way to further any personal endeavor or for personal gain.” (LEVEL THREE VIOLATION) The finding is “SUSTAINED”.
As it pertains to Policy 26.1.7 (4.1) “Employees shall demonstrate honesty and integrity at all times.” (LEVEL FOUR VIOLATION) The finding is “SUSTAINED”.
Now we learn that Sheriff Shoar has taken a grave risk by turning a blind eye to those findings. In a telephone call and e-mail confirmation today, sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Kelshaw told Historic City News editor Michael Gold that Jones is still employed. He received a verbal reprimand for his actions. No written copy exists, according to Kelshaw. Neither was Jones given any suspension from duty — either paid or unpaid.
The public must know that the sheriff has the integrity to hold his appointees accountable for dishonest acts; whether committed by his friends, or someone politically connected, or a former employer, for example.
Either that, or change his statement of “core values”.