GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) — A Florida sheriff says he will deputize every gun owner in his county to put down any violent protests his deputies can’t handle alone.
Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels gave no indication in a three-minute video released Wednesday that any demonstrations are planned in his suburban Jacksonville county.
Daniels also said he would protect any peaceful protests, but added that if anyone starts “tearing up Clay County, that is not going to be acceptable.”
“If we can’t handle you, I’ll exercise the power and authority as the sheriff and I’ll make special deputies of every lawful gun owner in the county and I’ll deputize them to this one purpose: to stand in the gap between lawlessness and civility,” said Daniels, sporting a white cowboy hat as he stood in front of 18 deputies.
Daniels, who is African American, said in the video that his department has a “great relationship” with its residents, but “if you come to Clay County and think for one second we’ll bend our backs for you, you’re sadly mistaken.”
“The second you step out from up under the protection of the Constitution, we’ll be waiting on you and give you everything you want: all the publicity, all the pain, all the glamour and glory for all that five minutes will give you.”
Daniels, a Republican finishing his first term, is being challenged by six opponents in the upcoming election.
He is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after his former employer, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, announced last year that he’d had an affair with a co-worker when he was running its jails.
Daniels, who is married, was accused of later having the woman falsely arrested. He issued an apology but said he wouldn’t discuss specifics.