Sheriff Daryll Daniels of Clay County, Florida, issued a warning to potential violent protesters and rioters threatening to mobilize by announcing that he will deputize all the county’s legal gun owners, if necessary, to increase the manpower and maintain peace throughout the county.
Daniels said, “We’ll protect your constitutional rights as long as you remain under the umbrella of peaceful protest or peaceful march. But the second you step out from up under protection of the Constitution, we’ll be waiting on you and we’ll give you everything you want. All the publicity, all the pain, all the glamour and glory for all that five minutes will give you.”
Daniels then said, “and if we can’t handle you, I’ll exercise the power and authority as the sheriff, and I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county and I’ll deputize them for this one purpose to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility.”
Clay County Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief Keith Smith said there has been a “very slight increase” in threats from outsiders to start a protest or to damage public property.
Sheriff Daniels is the first black sheriff in Clay County and is also up for re-election against five other candidates in August.
Not some wet-behind-the-ears yokel, Sheriff Daniels has a 29-year career in law enforcement, advancing through the ranks from officer, sergeant, lieutenant, assistant chief, division chief and now, sheriff.
He is also a Navy man: After graduating from high school, he enlisted and was stationed at Naval Air Station Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida and later deployed aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Forrestal. He holds undergraduate degrees in criminal justice administration and interdisciplinary studies as well as a master’s degree in religion.
In a three minute video, where he is surrounded by a group of deputies, Sheriff Daniels explained how they took the oath under God to protect and serve the community and will not tolerate lawlessness from anyone planning to come to their county to disrupt the peace.
Daniels highlighted the fact that in taking the oath as Sheriff, along with his sworn deputies, they did so under God. “But,” he pointed out, “God is absent from the media’s message or Black Lives Matter.”
Daniels said the sheriff’s department maintained a great relationship with the Clay County community but pointed out that, across the country, things appeared to perhaps be different, that lawlessness is unacceptable in this country and will not be tolerated in Clay County.
Of course, in today’s excited times, the video spawned critics who jumped on his remarks and accused Daniels of degrading the training it takes to become a sheriff’s deputy.
To answer them, according to Fox News, Daniels posted a follow-up video to address “some concerns about people who are essentially up in arms or the only thing that they heard was that ‘hey the sheriff says that he will make special deputies and those deputies will be comprised of lawful, gun owners in Clay County and he will make them special deputies’, which… to some people it sounds like ‘wait a minute, you are going to give people a green light or authorize them to use deadly force on peaceful protesters?’”
“That is our responsibility,” Daniels continued. “But when it comes to protecting this county, that is more than the sheriff’s office responsibility. It’s us collectively, it’s our county, it’s our community and our responsibility to police ourselves together, but when it comes to authority, the authority is the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and every sworn law enforcement officer in this jurisdiction.”
To lose control of the county or have it descend into violence and anarchy “would be a violation or dereliction of my duties as the sheriff,” Sheriff Daniels added. “That would also be a violation of state statute.”