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Q&A with St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick

Q: What are your top priorities for the Sheriff’s Office?
A: We have just completed our strategic planning within our office, which we do every year to stay current, and we have identified three priorities. The first is to build and move into a facility for our operations and general services departments. We pride ourselves on providing superior customer service to the citizens of St. Johns County, but we also want to be efficient and a fun place to work. The second is closely related to the first, and that is to continue to prioritize compensation and benefits for all employees of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office. We need to pay them properly so they can afford to work, live and play in St. Johns County. Finally, renovating and expanding our jail – to prepare for the growth of the county as well as to provide the additional services required by our prison population – will allow us to continue our mission to ensure that people leave us better. form only when they arrive.

Q: Can you elaborate on why a new sheriff’s office is needed?
A: Currently, our departments that are housed outside of the new Training and Communications Center (off Interstate 95) are located in five buildings as well as various smaller buildings throughout the county – and, in addition to the fact that many of these buildings are older, none of them were designed to handle the work of the sheriff’s office. For example, our Youth Resources, Traffic and Internet Crimes Against Children departments are housed in the Old Jail, built in 1953. The Sheriff’s Office and our Community Engagement Division are located in the Old Jail, built in 1953. old building of Wise Crisps. Our Risk Management and Human Resources departments are housed in a building that was originally occupied by the County Medical Examiner. Additionally, all of these buildings had to be evacuated during recent hurricanes, which while we are grateful to our partner Ring Power for allowing us to use their building, is not an ideal situation for the Sheriff’s Office. .

Q: What would the new office contain and where do you think it would be located?
A: The new building would house the Operations Department (including Criminal Investigations) as well as General Services (including Archives, Finance, Risk Division, IT, Fleet and Sheriff’s Office). We would have office space for our command team and the building would have space for us to hold meetings with the community. It would have to be a category 5 building so it wouldn’t have to evacuate in the event of a hurricane. We may be able to locate it on the property where our new training and communications center is located and we believe, based on current construction costs, it would cost between $40 million and $50 million.

Q: What would happen to the old buildings you currently occupy?
A: If we can move the sheriff’s offices out of the area, it would give us available real estate near the courthouse (which is mandatory) and the current jail to renovate, expand and connect to the current jail so let it be just a coherent installation. Currently, we occupy a prison built in 1986 (which replaced the 1953 prison) as well as four additional housing modules built in 1992, bringing the total number of beds in a piecemeal facility to 664. (Renovations were also done in 2010 and 2012 which added additional administrative space and the community work center.) There are many pieces to the puzzle as to how we should house inmates (gender/mental health/status pain, etc.) and we really cannot use even our 664 beds efficiently. On top of that, we need to prepare for the growth of the county and the inevitable growth we will experience in our prison population.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you with questions or suggestions regarding this article?

A: They can email me at [email protected] or call me at (904) 824-8304.