JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels is known for being outspoken. For the last two years, he’s been implementing a bold strategy in his department inside and out. One noticeable difference is their change to cowboy hats instead of the older version of campaign hats.
But Daniels is best known for his blunt delivery as he works to rid the county of drug dealers and career criminals.
In the past, he's made comments like, "good old-fashioned common sense should prevail," and "you may say 'oh poor little Timmy shouldn’t go to jail,' yeah, well Timmy shouldn’t be making threats to other students."
He is unapologetically straightforward. He also starts seeks out daily guidance from his Bible, positioned in the middle of his desk at work.
"I look through there every single day," Daniels said. "In Romans 13:4, it says, 'For he is a minister of God to thee for good.' Good means if you aren’t doing anything wrong then police don’t have a problem with you, but, 'if thou do that which is evil be afraid.' And if they are doing something wrong, they have to deal with the ministers of wrath. And that will be us."
He hopes what he calls his “no-nonsense approach” shows the community how seriously he takes his job.
He says they are always watching repeat offenders.
"I don’t care where they go I don’t want them here."
Sometimes, he admits, he can be a little too outspoken, but he's never said or done anything that he's regretted.
"Every now and then there are moments where I’m like I shouldn’t have said that."
One example he discussed with First Coast News deals with a Facebook live video of a drug raid from January. The video wraps up with him drinking coffee in the home as his deputies raided the house and put more than a dozen people in handcuffs on the street.
The video created controversy because the description he used to describe what they had found in the home didn't match up with what they really found later on, but he says he only spoke to the information he received early on from deputies on scene.
He was also criticized for the amount of force they brought to this scene, but that something he vehemently defends, saying he will do whatever it takes to make sure no one loses their life.
"They say, 'you used military grade vehicles for a bunch of kids?' Well kids will kill you," Daniels said.
He references the tragic death of Det. David White in 2012. White was killed by a suspect during a drug raid.
He says he often discusses issues, ideas and stresses of the job with long-time friend and classmate Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams.
"We were just kids, I challenge anyone to find two sheriffs in neighboring counties who came out of the same class and came up through the ranks together."
For Daniels, coming up through the ranks started when he was just a toddler.
"The bad guys will look and say 'you don’t know how I was brought up', well, yeah I do, I was raised by a single parent, in what we called the hood in Miami, so don’t talk to me about coming from the ghetto or a challenged environment because well so did I.”
Daniels shows a picture of him as a 3-year-old boy surrounded by family members. In the picture is a glimpse of his future, with a sheriff’s badge on his chest.
"One day, they said, Darryl is going to be the sheriff, and they all started laughing. But you know what, if that's what was said, it came to reality. Hopefully, I'm making my little cousins proud and the people of Clay County proud, because we are sure trying to."
Daniels says he plans to run for Sheriff again, but right now he is focused on getting narcotics off the street.
He says he is working on finding room in the county's budget to expand their force as they are currently very understaffed. He hopes to add about 26 new deputies next year, although, he says they need about 74.
After getting more boots on the ground, he will look into the affordability of body cams, the same body cams currently being tested out by JSO.
He also mentioned one of his newest inmates, Keyanta Bullard. He made the decision to cut Bullard's house once he entered their jail. He said that's an example of the standard they keep in Clay County.
"Someone says, 'oh, you might have violated his rights.' No, I didn't violate, he is in my care."
Sheriff Daniels says he's used to ruffling feathers, but as long as he's doing his job by protecting the law-abiding citizens of the county, he knows he's doing the right thing. He continues to improve his relationship with the community, with a keep focus on meeting and speaking with the youth.