Letter: Strickland uniquely qualified to be our next sheriff

Tom Verri
St Johns County, FL

Dear Editor:

Based on my 34 years of experience in law enforcement, working for two of the country’s largest police agencies in command-level, supervisory positions, as well as the US Department of State, I would like to announce to Historic City News subscribers that I am supporting Chris Strickland for St Johns County sheriff.

I have compared the qualifications and experience of the two current candidates: Chris Strickland and Rob Hardwick.  This county needs proper administration of our sheriff’s office.  It is our primary law enforcement and public safety agency.  With that in mind, I find that Strickland far and away exceeds his opponent.  The only other qualified candidate has withdrawn and thrown his support behind the Strickland for Sheriff campaign.

Sheriff Neil Perry appointed Strickland a deputy sheriff when he was only 19 years old.  Perry saw Strickland’s dedication and realized Chris had great promise.  Strickland rose through the ranks as the agency and the county grew.  He advanced from deputy to sergeant to detective, lieutenant, to commander and finally to the highest-ranking uniformed career position, Director of the Office of Sheriff.  As Director, he oversaw operations at the highest level of the agency.  Strickland earned a Master of Public Administration degree and is a graduate of Georgia Command College. 

Chris Strickland is uniquely qualified to be our next sheriff. In recent years, our sheriff’s office has been plagued with scandals. Under Sheriff Shoar, we have witnessed the national embarrassment of mishandling in the Michelle O’Connell death investigation as well as the embezzlement of about three-quarters of a million dollars by Shoar’s handpicked Director of Finance.

After 16-years of no accountability for his actions, Shoar and his family have donated thousands of dollars and are aggressively promoting Hardwick, who oversees an agency made up of about 21 officers, to be Shoar’s successor. That is disturbing.

The sheriff’s office is responsible for the lives of over 260,000 people who reside here and literally millions who vacation here with their families.  Throughout his 30-year career, Chris Strickland has been training for the job of sheriff.  I am pledged to make certain that he achieves that goal this year.