WOW!!! THIRTY-FIVE Years! Ok … 34 years and 10 months. It is really coming. This Thursday will be my last day working for the City of Jacksonville. Yes, I’ll be at work Friday to ‘check out’ and turn in all of my equipment and stuff but on Saturday morning March 28, I will wake up retired from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
I have really enjoyed the ride. it has been bumpy at times but always challenging and fulfilling. The more challenging the better. After bouncing around for the first 5 years after high school, the Department of Corrections had been diversified enough to provide me with a change of scenery every few years. From a rotating seven squad schedule (new shift every month) at the Prison Farm to MCC’s Commissary then to the DOC Commissary and subsequently into ‘the new Jail’, in 1991 I became a shift sergeant (still rotating) and then shift FTO Sergeant in 1995 until I got my true blessing in 1996.
I spent 17 years doing what I loved to do unofficially for the previous five years, training and teaching new employees and my new position as FTO Coordinator honed my skill set to train and teach those who trained our new employees …Training The Trainers in the vernacular.
It was an enjoyable and rewarding career, building the future of the department by ensuring that our new employees were trained by the best trainers. Doing everything in my power, and relying a lot on His Strength, to ensure my FTOs had the best equipment and the best training to allow them to do what came best to them … taking their vast wealth of professional corrections knowledge, skills, and abilities, adding in their awesome training experience to package it into an easily digestible training plan that would turn raw recruits into new professional corrections officers. My mantra to the recruits was (in reference to their charges (the inmates) for the day) “There but for the grace of God go all of us” and to the FTOs, “The recruits do NOT know how to do IT until they can TEACH you to DO it!”
I was so blessed to be able to serve the recruits and their trainers for so many years. If you know me, you know I live by Colossians 3: 23-24 …
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.(NIV)
It was a joy to see the ‘lights come on’ so many times in those years … in not only the FTOs and the recruits but especially in the ‘Old Timers,’ nay-sayers and doubters who living breathing positive examples that what we were doing was actually making their jobs infinitely safer, way more efficient and purely a lot easier by ‘producing’ a better trained officer and ‘raising the bar’ of professionalism for them and those around them.
I finished my career back on the shift working with a great group of people, and a few challenges, but it was getting back to my roots…working with people to take care of people. I am ending my career, doing the one thing I swore I’d NEVER do, and very vocally threatened to TAZE anyone who suggested I do, work as the watch administrative sergeant. It was VERY rewarding, kept my OCD dragon down to a dull roar by keeping me busy over the last year.
Vaya Con Dios my Brethren … It was enriching and rewarding and I was soooo blessed to have traveled this road with y’all. As always, y’all will continue to be in my prayers daily. I am leaving before my dear friends and repsected supervisors, John Rutherford and Tara Wildes but they are shortly to follow where I will lead this time…into retirement and onward with their lives. I’ll go now and leave you with a saying the most respected leader in my career had posted in his office …