By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
BREVARD -- Residents along the Space Coast are certainly blessed to have such a dedicated team of law enforcement officers, especially Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
Since officially taking office on Jan. 7, 2013, Sheriff Ivey has dealt with a variety of matters, from new legislation, such as the "No Texting While Driving" law that went into effect in October 2013, as well as the recent deputy-involved shooting of gunman suspect Robert Striffler at the Moore Justice Center in Viera.
In an interview with Hometown News, Sheriff Ivey discussed his goals for the remainder of the year, as well as why he chose law enforcement as a career.
Q: Did you always want to be in law enforcement? If not, what did you want to be growing up?
A: When I was in high school, I worked at the local funeral home and had initial plans to become a funeral director. I met a number of law enforcement officers through working at the funeral home and quickly found an interest in law enforcement. I went on a "ride-along" one night with one of my friends, who was a Deputy Sheriff, and quickly decided that I wanted a career in law enforcement.
Q: Prior to becoming Sheriff, where did you serve in your career?
A: My career has spanned almost 34 years between three agencies -- the Clay County Sheriff's Office, the Putnam County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Q: Since becoming Sheriff, what have been some of your biggest accomplishments? Your biggest challenges?
A: Our agency has had a tremendous year and achieved a number of milestones during 2013. I am extremely proud of the fact that we were able to take existing resources and start a number of new initiatives that are designed to better protect our community, at no cost to our taxpayers. Initiatives, such as the first in the country Crime Prevention Task Force, that brings together local law enforcement agencies in Brevard County to work together to prevent crime from occurring, the newly created Economic Crime Unit that focuses on crimes like identity theft, credit card fraud and scams against our seniors and refocused efforts on violent crime initiatives, are three incredible accomplishments that each work to lower our crime rate. I am also very proud of our increased crime prevention initiatives that have provided the ability to instantly reach our citizens through social media, television and in-person presentations. Additionally, we created partnerships and security efforts with Eastern Florida State College and Brevard Public Schools, increasing safety on campuses throughout the county. The partnerships are collaborative efforts with our fellow public safety members, providing increased protective measures, for the students and teachers on the campuses. Certainly, today's economy creates challenges for us all, but I am extremely proud of the job our team has done at continuing to deliver high quality, professional services to protect our citizens and make the Brevard County Sheriff's Office one of the most professional and respected agencies in the country. While the economy has presented challenges, our team has been able to overcome these challenges through innovation and strategies to increase our presence in the community.
Q: Although the year is still new, what are some of the accomplishments of your department thus far?
A: One of the accomplishments that we are extremely pleased with is the development of a new program, titled "It's Time to be a Parent Again," that works to help parents steer their kids toward success and away from trouble. I want our parents to be empowered to, once again, hold their children accountable for their actions as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in their child's life. I am also excited about the creation of BrevardSheriffTV.com that allows us to instantly deliver vital crime prevention information to our citizens through televised programming on computer, YouTube, Facebook and even smart phones. When the concept is fully launched this spring, citizens will be able to watch programming every day on crime prevention, news and agency accomplishments and updates. The new concept is also a great way for us to showcase the truly amazing talents of the nearly 1,400 men and women of our agency, who work every day to protect the community they serve.
Q: What are some goals for the remainder of 2014?
A: Our primary goal for this year is to increase productivity at our "Inmate Work Farm" to help offset the cost of feeding inmates at the jail. By increasing the growth of vegetables and fruit at the farm, we can work to lower the expenditure of taxpayer dollars to feed inmates and save the county thousands of dollars each year.
Q: What do you believe will present the biggest challenge to your department?
A: Lowering the crime rate is always a challenge and must be approached from many different variables. I believe that we must focus our efforts on continuing to engage our citizens in helping us keep the community safe and, by partnering with them, we will have a significant impact on the crime rate in Brevard County. I am convicted to the concept that "It takes a community to protect a community," and our agency works every day to share vital crime prevention information with our citizens, so that they can be our eyes and ears.
Q: Why do you believe the BCSO is such a tremendous branch of law enforcement?
A: Because I have the honor of working alongside the 1,400 incredible men and women of our agency, who are completely committed to serving our community. Our employees make our agency one of the most aggressive, professional and dedicated agencies in the country. I get to see, firsthand, the amazing levels of innovation, passion and devotion that make this agency what it is, and I fully recognize that the employees are the most valuable resource and asset of the Brevard County Sheriff's Office. I am truly humbled to serve with them and be a part of this outstanding agency!
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: When I have free time, I enjoy spending it with my beautiful wife, Susan, and our family of four children and two rescue dogs. I am an avid sports enthusiast and still enjoy playing racquetball and basketball. While I don't get to ride very often, I have a Harley and I always look forward to some riding time with family and friends.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I absolutely love this job and everything it offers to be involved in our community. I currently sit on 15 different not-for-profits in Brevard County because I know that each of them is of value to our community. I am truly having the time of my life and greatly appreciate the citizens of this county and our agency for giving me the opportunity to serve as their Sheriff!