CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels is sparking conversations over social media on how he’d handle riots in his county limits.
“I'll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in this county,” Daniels said in the video posted on the Clay County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page.
When talking to First Coast News, Daniels clarified that doesn’t mean any gun owner can jump into the ring to fight crime at any time, but only when it is asked.
“Everyone bears a responsibility to keep their community safe,” Daniels said.
Daniels says he posted this video in response to constituents asking how he would handle rioters.
“That does not give anybody the authority or autonomy to do anything independently,“ Daniels said. “If I need help from a citizen then I’m going to ask for that help.”
Crime analyst and law enforcement expert Mark Baughman said the video worries him.
“There are other actions you can take than deputizing every law-abiding gun owner,” Baughman said. “Then they feel like they’re emboldened to take some action and that can potentially lead to violent action that could hurt them or someone else.”
Baughman says he also believes we should support our law enforcement in violent situations—but there are so many resources available that shouldn’t make it necessary to ask for citizens’ help.
“We have mutual aid with all of these other sheriff’s offices, adjoining counties,” Baughman said. “Enact the National Guard, there are so many other options than saying you’re going to deputize people.”
Daniels is a first-term sheriff up for reelection. He is challenged by six opponents, including current Atlantic Beach Police Chief Michelle Cook.
“I’m a believer in the second amendment,” Cook said. “You have a right to defend yourself if you’re in danger. I think smart people see this for what it is—a campaign stunt.”
First Coast News asked Daniels if this video had anything to do with the upcoming election.
“It has nothing to do with campaigning,” Daniels said. “The people don’t pay me to campaign. They pay me to keep them safe and by God that’s what I have done and what I’ll continue to do.”