JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A longtime sergeant with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has retired, but he isn't going qiuet. On Wednesday, former Sgt. Rodney Smith publicly criticized the department and called out employees for alleged misconduct.
Smith posted what he’s calling “a letter to the Sheriff” on his Facebook page. The lengthy letter follows his retirement. In the letter, he criticized Sheriff Mike William’s and Undersheriff Pat Ivey’s leadership, as well as the integrity of the department.
Sheriff Williams said Smith requested an exit interview with him last week and he thought it went well, so he was surprised to hear of the letter, which he has yet to read in full.
Smith was recently awarded “Supervisor of the Month” at JSO, but its supervisors and other leaders are at the heart of his frustration.
In the letter, he also admitted to being the one who leaked the body camera footage of the controversial traffic stop with Councilman Reggie Gaffney and Councilwoman Katrina Brown in September. Releasing the video early without permission is an action JSO says breaks protocol and one that launched an internal investigation, but Smith retired shortly after the incident.
In his message to the Sheriff, Smith said, “If you haven’t heard, I released the video. I told Ivey without hesitation when asked. I won’t lie, unlike others I have encountered over the years such as Ivey. I released the video for obvious reasons but the main issue was to ensure that it did not disappear.”
We asked Sheriff Williams about the concerns raised by Smith. He said his department will need to do a lot of fact checking with what he said, but he mostly disagrees with Smith’s sentiments.
“After 90 days, if that video is not part of a case or anything like that, it goes away, but in terms of disappearing that’s not going to happen,” Williams said.
Smith goes on to accuse the Homicide Unit of being “a hostile working environment” and an “all white boys club by not accepting any minorities." He alleges “there are no black detectives, no Hispanic detectives or Asian detectives. For a unit that investigates the deaths of people where the majority are minorities is a slap in the face to our community.”
This is a subject First Coast News has tried to obtain information on for months by sending open record requests to JSO asking for a racial and gender breakdown of sworn-in officers. Two months later, JSO responded to us but only with the numbers of total officers and not the breakdown requested, which they said doesn’t exist. Williams disagreed.
“We track that monthly, diversity in the agency, I can’t speak to diversity in homicide, I know that Sergeant Smith never worked in homicide, never worked in investigations to my knowledge,” Williams said.
Shortly after discussing the matter, the Sheriff’s office sent us this breakdown of the entire department:
Smith also criticizes JSO’s handling of “Shot Spotter," describing it as a waste of time.
“We all know that the SAO would never issue an arrest warrant for anyone who could not be directly linked to a scene," the letter read.
He also criticized the efficiency of patrol officers.
“The administration just keeps piling more and more onto patrol officers to do while taking officers off of the street for specialized units at the same time and of course, crime is going to go up," the letter read.
Williams responded, “there is no increased in specialized units, crime is down for two years in a row.”
Smith accused Williams of unfair discipline and promotions within the department.
“Mike your promotional process has really turned into a joke around here. It’s almost like rush at a fraternity," he said.
He ended the letter by saying: “I'm not disgruntled or crazy, I'm just honest and sincere when I speak and act … Please honor the badge you wear and the oath you took as if your life depends on it. Please take care.”
Williams said that Smith was a good employee and that he can only wish him well at this point.
“I can only hope in the future he will have a different perspective,” Williams said.
First Coast News is looking into all of the allegations made by Smith. Smith was not able to be reached for an interview.
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