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5 Points with Sheriff Sadie Darnell

May 06, 2015

The job of Sheriff, once thought of as a local position, now requires a global focus. In addition to fighting the effects of crime in their communities these men and women must work with other law-enforcement agencies on a statewide, federal and even international level to strike at the roots of the problems. We recently sat down with Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell to learn a little more about her and what is happening with his community. 

1. What is the most pressing public issue that faces your county (or our state), and why?

Mental illness is a huge concern for law enforcement in Florida and throughout our country.  Mental health funding has not been a priority in Florida and as a result we are one consistently close to the bottom ranking of all states in the nation.   Because of this our jails and courts have become backlogged and are used as a stop gap measure for treating people with mental illnesses.  Baker act commitments and suicides are on the increase. Suicide is currently the third leading cause of death among teenagers.  It is important that we begin to recognize these trends and begin to address them with intervention and affordable treatment. Affordable treatment begins with equal access to health care and intervention to assist in helping those individuals in dealing with their crises.  

2. If visitors could see or do one thing in your county, what would it be, and why?

Alachua County is home to the University of Florida, the finest university in the nation. Visitors flock to campus for all types of events.  Being home to the “Gator Nation” is an honor and privilege that many envy.  From a fall football classic in the Swamp to a summer evening in one of the outdoor venues for a concert or fireworks, UF offers something for all ages.  From the iconic “chomp” to the world class education, “It’s great to be a Florida Gator!”

3. If you could allow a celebrity to be “Sheriff for a Day” in your county, who would it be, and why?

I would  hand my badge over to Mother Teresa for a day and learn from one of the greatest women ever. I would love the opportunity to ask her for guidance. Her wisdom and grace is so needed in our current toxic, pain filled,  broken world.  I draw strength from reading her quotes and about her work.  

4. Describe your single greatest achievement as sheriff.

Wow! What a tough question. I would have to say that I am most proud about being a responsible steward of the taxpayers dollar. Since my election back in 2006, the County Commission has cut my budget every year.  I have been able to absorb those cuts with elimination of positions through attrition and not lay anyone off but yet keep a strong commitment of dedicated law enforcement to the citizens.  We continue to do more with less because of a very hard-working and dedicated group of employees committed to keeping the residents of Alachua County safe. Our motto has been drawn out of that commitment, “Always Committed to Serving Others (ACSO)”  I will continue to pride myself and have absolute accountability and transparency for every dime of taxpayer monies.  

I would also say that being able to have a full-time, dedicated cold case detective has been a source of pride. I want everyone to know that these victims, or any victim, will never be forgotten and we will strive for resolution.  The results of this position in terms of closing cases, developing suspects or bringing prosecution has been outstanding. As Sheriff, being able to tell victims of cold cases that their case is just important today as it was when it happened is very rewarding and fulfilling.  

5. Is there a case that still haunts you today? If so, why? 

The missing person case of Danny Randall Jackson, a little boy aged 12 at the time of his non-parental abduction in 1989. He was last seen by his brother and a friend in their NE Gainesville neighborhood sitting in a car with an adult male neighbor at approximately 8:30 p.m. The neighbor was investigated thoroughly by the Gainesville Police Department; I was the Criminal Investigations Division Captain at the time. Numerous area searches were conducted including the use of expertly trained canines and their handlers to no avail. This adult male was subsequently charged with sexual assaulting two other children; and served time in prison for one of them. He was released in 1999. This year, 2015, Randy would turn 26 years old. 

To learn more about Sheriff Darnell and the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, please visit