Corrupt one-party ruled St. Johns County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the Nation, still unadorned by body-worn cameras or dashboard cameras. Lakeland is getting them. Our Nation's Oldest European-founded City, St. Augustine, has them. But not St. Johns County. Not yet. Why?
When will St. Johns County finally get them?
I asked Sheriff Robert Hardwick on GTV camera at the County Commission's TRIM hearing in September; he promised we would be getting them.
I asked Sheriff Hardwick again last Tuesday, December 20, 2022.
Sheriff Hardwick said we would be getting them, as he walked rapidly away.
"Like pie in the sky in the sweet bye-and-bye," as UMWA President John L. Lewis would say?
As 2023 approaches, St. Johns County badly needs continuing oversight and investigations, especially to transform its dysfunctional Sheriff's office. Sheriff DAVID SHOAR and State's Attorney RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZZA helped cover up the murders of Michelle O'Connell and Eli Washtock.
The Sheriff's office still hires and retains spouse-beaters and one JEREMY BANKS, whom two (2) judges found probably killed Ms. Michelle O'Connell on September 2, 2010.
Two (2) Florida judges both found probable cause that he killed Michelle O'Connell, and the case was never presented to a Grand Jury. St. Johns County Court Judge Charles Tinlin, who retires in a few days in 2011 righty signed and ordered a search warrant for BANKS.
In dismissing Deputy JEREMY BANKS' retaliatory SLAPP civil rights lawsuit against FDLE Special Agent Rusty Ray Rodgers, U.S. District Court Judge Brian J. Davis found there was probable cause that BANKS killed Ms. O'Connell. Both Judge Tinlin and Judge Davis found probable cause that JEREMY BANKS killed Ms. Michelle O'Connell. There is no statute of limitations for homicide.).
Maladroit 7th Circuit prosecutor RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA's office is so backward that it refused to distribute copies of the National District Attorneys' Association's National Prosecution Standards. That speaks volumes.
It is irrefragable that St. Johns County law enforcement is substandard and behind time times.
I first read The National Prosecution Standards when James Nelson Ramsey, District Attorney of Anderson County, Tennessee gave me a copy in Anderson County Courthouse in June 1981.
It is now online.
Ask RALPH JOSEPH LARIZZA, it IF you ever see him anywhere -- what paragraph or concept do you reject, sir? (You have the right to remain silent. But we wish you wouldn't.).
Under our devious developer-directed ST. JOHNS COUNTY SHERIFF, INC.. disorganization, was our St. Johns County Sheriff's Office a disdainful, disgraceful place, a poorly-run Third World Department, with poor morale and authoritarian rigid rigamarole?
You tell me.
We're waiting to see it transformed, IF Robert Hardwick's campaign promises are to be believed.
But nearly two years in, does the Sheriff's office badly need a Jesuit priest to conduct an exorcism?
Sheriff SHOAR said in 2016 LWV forum/debate with his Republican opponent, former Deputy Debra Mayor, that he "rejects the false narrative that cops need to be watched."
Does the spirit of SHOAR, who legally changed his name from "HOAR" in 1994, still hang over SJSO?
You tell me.
Those solemn, self-satisfied, cynical slowpokes in power here have much to learn about law enforcement, it seems.
Sheriff Hardwick actually said on December 20, 2022 to St. Johns County Commissioners that drug dealing and human trafficking were the "two most profitable criminal offenses"
No, Sheriff Hardwick, you're wrong. Those are the two most profitable meatball crimes. The most profitable crimes are organized crime ad white collar crimes, including monopoly, price-fixing, bribery, pollution and fraud.
Get it right, sweetheart.
But this a peculiar place with peculiar institution and low expectations of louche law enforcement officers. It is a place where an uneducated SAPD officer actually told me on July 31 2020 that "I can't charge a corporation with a crime," "what do you expect?" (The hero of the movie, JFK, New Orleans DA Jim Garrison once said, "what do you expect from a pig but a grunt?")
When he makes unsophisticated, uninformed untrue statements about "crime," people may think that Sheriff Robert Hardwick is a just the latest in a long line of lying louche lickspittles for the rich and powerful, like those who have abused the Sheriff's office for so long. Just like when they read on the Sheriff's website that corrupt racist segregationist Sheriff LAWRENCE O. DAVIS was "exonerated? by the Florida Srate Senate, which actually removed DAVIS by 44-2 vote in 1971
St. Johns County's Sheriffs long abused their "Organized Crime" unit here to harass GLBTQIA+ people on beaches. They made targeted threatening telephone calls about "trespassing" before former UNESCO Ambassador ALAN KEYES' March 15, 2005 anti-Gay marriage hate rally at a government building, our St. Johns County Convention Center at World Golf Village, which SJSO has repeatedly lied about, calling it "private property," in 2005, and again in 2017, as in this incomparable Jeffrey Marcus Gray video published by The New York Times, featuring SHOAR/HOAR and then-UnderSheriff and still General Counsel MATTHEW DANIEL CLINE, lugubrious gooberish graduate of a now-defunct for-profit law school that lost its ABA accreditation, lying to Mr. Gray that he had "no right to demonstrate":
We need to exorcise the spirit that is haunting the Sheriff's office.
We need to extirpate the sleazy sloth, torpor, mediocrity and mendacity that SHOAR/HOAR left behind.
What do you reckon?
From Lakeland Ledger:
'Everyone's getting a Christmas present': Lakeland Police Department rolls out body cameras
LAKELAND — Lakeland Police Department has rolled out body-worn cameras to more than 100 uniformed patrol officers over the past week.
"Everyone's getting a Christmas present," Assistant Chief Hans Lehman said.
Lehman said the decision was made to begin deploying the cameras to the department's most public-facing positions — uniformed patrol officers on the streets — and gradually phase in the rollout due to ongoing supply chain and technology issues.
"We were trying really hard to get cameras out to everyone by the end of the year as the commission has asked," he said. "At least we're getting all our uniformed components done by the end of the year."
Body cams in Polk:Haines City purchases cameras for its police department
Lakeland Police news:Sam Taylor replaces Lakeland Police Chief Ruben Garcia in December
Lehman said he hopes to have cameras issued to all school resource officers before students return from the holiday break. The next groups in line will be detectives, followed by less public-facing positions among administrative staff.
Lt. Frank Fitzgerald has been issuing the cameras and leading officers through a roughly two-hour, in-person training session in small groups of about five to six individuals, according to Lehman. Its covers the basic operations of the camera and how the officers can use it in partnership with their department-issued cell phones. Officers were expected to have previously completed an online training program produced by the manufacturer Axon Enterprise, Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona.
"It's actually worked out to our benefit," Lehman said. "A big part of our digital evidence management was getting a smart phone in every officer's hands."
All officers are being assigned smart phones to use an app called Axon Capture that will allow Lakeland police to tag photos and videos of crime scenes using their phone and automatically upload it to cloud storage.
"It will make our officers more efficient, quicker than the phone issues we have," Lehman said.
Getting a smart phone to each officer may also improve the department's response times, according to Lehman. Lakeland's Computer Aided Dispatch, or CAD system, installed earlier this year can interface with the phones to allow officers to know if there are service calls awaiting a response without having to return to their vehicle to check a computer.
"It's been a blessing in disguise to get the phone and bodycam out to officers together," Lehman said.
The rollout hasn't been without technological glitches. Lehman said two body cameras were refusing to properly connect, have been shipped back to Axon and replaced. Officers have faced a connectivity issue where cams tethered to their laptops haven't always synched up properly and sometimes get booted from the system. Lakeland's IT department is working with city staff and Axon representatives in effort to resolve these issues.
"Any government entity has firewalls," he said. "Getting the equipment to talk through firewalls has been our biggest hurdle."
Lehman said all uniformed patrol officers are having to come back to the station to dock their cameras. Most have to stop at the station for their shift's briefing, meal breaks or to speak with supervisors, according to Lehman.
"It hasn't impacted us too badly on down time," he said.
Lehman said the officers' reactions to being given a body camera to wear this holiday season has been largely positive.
"Everyone's been extremely receptive, no one has pushed back," he said. "The younger officers are so technology oriented they've actually embraced it."
Lehman said some of the department's latest recruits from out-of-state agencies were previously required to wear body cameras and have come to accept it as part of the job.
Lakeland police department has hired two additional staff members to help implement the cameras' rollout and manage the incoming data. Lehman said a computer technologist specialist is already working with a digital record management specialist to handle the expected increase in records request is expected to start in January.
The department has yet to receive the 165 in-car vehicle dashboard camera system with license plate reader capability. Those systems are expected to arrive in January with gradual rollout as vehicles are switched over.
"We’re excited the project is starting to come to fruition and see the work we’ve put into over a year now," Lehman said. "I think it's going to be a good thing."Sara-Megan Walsh can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7545. Follow on Twitter @SaraWalshFl.