AMERICA’S SHERIFF: Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey is Space Coast Daily Person of the Year
By Maria Sonnenberg // December 29, 2019
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey Among Most Respected Law Enforcement Leaders in the U.S.
“I personally believe our country is at a tipping point – and if strong, patriotic Americans don’t start standing up for the principles of this great country, we’re going to lose this great country.” – Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Space Coast Daily’s Person of the Year, must have the ability to clone himself, for he seems to be everywhere at once. Unless you don’t get out much, you would run into Sheriff Ivey at the myriad fundraisers he supports.
He is also on television, he is in print, he is online, he is out apprehending criminals, he is advocating for the humane treatment of animals, he and his bloodhound buddy, Junny, are out visiting schools, he is speaking on topics such as identify theft, human trafficking, domestic violence and crime in America, he is overseeing a staff of 1,600 with a proposed 2020 budget in excess of $136 million, he is working with other law enforcement agencies around the country and he is even testifying in front of Congress.
The man, the most visible public official in the community, must have cloning abilities, don’t you think?
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey personally walked Sara Ann Perry into the Brevard County Jail after being arrested for forcing her dog into the hot trunk of a white BMW on Thursday.
Ivey has tossed his sheriff’s cap into the ring for the 2020 elections, and so far he is running unopposed for what will he hopes will be his third term.
No one has yet stepped up to challenge him, possibly because opponents realize how difficult it would be to come out ahead when facing the well-loved sheriff.
The funny thing is that this highly dedicated lawman almost went into a very different career path. Growing up in Green Cove Springs (pop. 6,908) south of Jacksonville, Ivey, unlike many little boys, did not dream of becoming a policeman.
“At first, I wanted to be an attorney, a prosecutor,” he said.
A high school job working in a funeral home almost persuaded him to enter the mortuary field, but he became friends with the law enforcement officers who would escort service for funerals, and he warmed up to the idea of becoming a cop.
The deal was sealed when a policeman pal took him along during a typical day’s work, which even happened to include a car chase.
“I fell in love, and I was hooked,” said Ivey.
Clay County’s funeral industry loss was Brevard County’s law enforcement gain. Sheriff Ivey’s very excellent ride-along was almost 40 years ago.
In that span, Ivey wasted no time and earned a bachelor’s degree in management and supervision from Daytona State College, graduated from the FBI National Academy, gained experience in criminal investigations, narcotics, patrol service, corrections, management and public integrity investigations and served as Resident Agent in Charge for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement before becoming Brevard’s Sheriff in 2012.
He was also named Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Special Agent of the Year in 1996, was recognized by the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for his outstanding contributions to criminal justice, was honored by the National Organization of Victims Advocacy for his work at the national level as an advocate of victims’ rights and protection, was singled out with the President’s Award for efforts in crime prevention and community awareness from the Florida Crime Prevention Association and was the recipient of the Defender of Freedom Award from the NRA.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey was with Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence during a press briefing at the White House last Fall. Sheriff Ivey was in Washinton DC to serve as the spokesman for sheriffs from across the country, who shared their experiences and public safety challenges associated with illegal aliens and call on Congress to act on pending legislation to increase border security and reform the immigration system. (Fox Business Network video)
The self-described “most politically incorrect sheriff in the country,” who started out as a corrections officer in 1980, was invited to testify before Congress earlier this year on the opioid epidemic.
“It is one of the biggest problems law enforcement faces,” he said.
The White House also requested Sheriff Ivey’s presence for his perspective on issues such as immigration.
“It was humbling to stand in the Oval Office and think of all the great presidents who have worked there,” said Ivey.
While the public honors are gratifying, nothing pleases the sheriff more than getting a better handle on crime. These days, he is very pleased with the job his team has done.
“We had another great year of lowering the crime rate another five percent,” said Ivey.
“Since 2013, we have seen the crime rate drop 30 percent, even though our population is growing daily. We have a team of very aggressive law enforcement personnel and a great partnership with the community. Our citizens are getting informed before they become victims. It takes a community to protect a community. It’s a testament to how well our approach is working that we’re seeing other agencies across the country adopting this model.”
IN WAYNE WE TRUST: Thinking outside the box has always been Sheriff Ivey’s forte.
During his service with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, he created the country’s first statewide task force on identify theft, named among the top five most innovative programs in the country by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
As a member of the FDLE, Sheriff Ivey also created the Child Abduction Response Team, which redefined the way these cases are conducted around the nation today. The program was selected as the most innovative program in the country by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and is now used as the gold standard.
In his six years as Sheriff, Ivey has always welcomed additional responsibilities that he always approaches with a fresh eye.
A vital component in his reduction of crime initiative is the very visible ways in which Ivey engages the community. Social media programs such as “Wheel of Fugitive,” “Cooking Up Justice” and “Fishing for Fugitives” and his appearances on NRA TV and Newsmax TV involve residents as crime fighters and helped establish Ivey as a national trendsetter in creatively educating citizens about crime prevention, victimization and scams.
Ivey’s approach has been proven highly effective in getting the bad guys behind bars.
“We get a lot of tips from the community,” said Ivey.
Under Ivey, the role of the Sheriff’s Office has expanded to include law enforcement services at Port Canaveral, the world’s second-busiest cruise port. The Office also agreed to provide resource deputies for 30 Brevard County schools.
An ardent animal lover, Ivey took over the operations of the county’s animal shelter during a time when homeless pets that entered the shelter had about a 50 percent chance of being euthanized.
“I wanted us to become a no-kill community, which meant that the shelter had to have a live release rate of at least 90 percent,” said Ivey.
Teaming up with humane groups in the county, Ivey and his shelter team have been able to reach that 90 percent goal consistently since 2015.
“It’s a credit to the team and to the community who embraced the no-kill concept,” said Ivey.
For three years in a row, the Sheriff’s Animal Services Unit has earned the Outstanding Agency of the Year Award from the Florida Animal Control Association.
The Sheriff’s “Paws and Stripes” program also won the 2019 Outstanding Cooperative Team Achievement Award for the concept of using inmates to train rescued dogs to become comfort dogs for children who are victims of crime or who have witnessed a violent crime.
The previously unwanted animals are now serving communities around the nation and have been used to help young crime victims during tragedies such as the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The program is now a national model.
Because of Sheriff Ivey, Brevard is one of the handful of counties in the nation with a Chain Gang, but this is no ordinary chain gang doing manual labor.
“They’re all volunteers,” said Ivey.
The inmates agree to do tasks such as leading educational programs to parents of at-risk youth.
“It takes a lot of courage to volunteer because it forces them to rethink what went wrong in their lives,” said Ivey.
Through their work with the Chain Gang, the inmates learn discipline and gain self-esteem. Facts prove that the Gang works since recidivism rate for the general inmate population is 44 percent, versus only two percent for Chain Gang participants.
SHERIFF IVEY STRESSES TEAMWORK IS KEY TO SUCCESS
For Ivey, being sheriff is being one of the 1,600 people who are all equally integral in the big picture.
“Whether they are a corrections officer or with the K-9 unit or in human resources, they are all part of the team,” he said.
When asked where his greatest leadership strengths lie, Ivey is quick to answer.
“I pick the right team and get out of the way,” he said. “That is the greatest ability I possess, to get out of the way.”
For Ivey, being sheriff is a 24/7/365 endeavor, and he delights in representing the office at the countless fundraisers he attends.
He is not just Brevard’s Top Cop, but also its Chief Volunteer Auctioneer, for Ivey routinely sells to the highest bidders exotic trips, jewelry and other attractions, all in the name of worthy causes.
Charities such as the United Way, Health First Foundation, Hospice of Health First, Promise in Brevard, Boys and Girls Club, Central Brevard Humane Society, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Neighbor Up Brevard, SPCA of Brevard, the Women’s Center, and many, many others, have all benefitted from Ivey’s presence.
“Every event I go to, I go to because I am passionate about that cause,” he said.
Ivey considers himself fortunate to be doing a job he loves.
“I can’t wait to put on the uniform every day,” said the sheriff. “Being a sheriff is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”