New faces take charge at area sheriff's offices

Published: Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 1:24 a.m.

There's a new sheriff in town. Literally.

New men have taken over in several North Florida counties recently as new sheriffs take their oaths of office.

Bradford County's new sheriff is Gordon Smith, the former Starke police chief who was replaced in that job by Jeff Johnson, a longtime veteran of the police department.

In Columbia County, Mark Hunter is the new sheriff. Gilchrist County's new sheriff is Daniel Slaughter, who actually took over a few days ahead of his counterparts because former sheriff David Turner retired on Dec. 31.

And in Putnam County, Jeff Hardy is now sheriff.

Rate the agency: The Alachua County Sheriff's Office will host inspectors later this month as part of the agency's effort to have another of its accreditations renewed.

The Commission for Florida Law Enforcement Accreditation will be at the sheriff's office for three days, beginning Jan. 21.

Within the last few months the communication center and jail received their latest accreditations from other accrediting agencies. This month, the sheriff's law enforcement branch will be under the microscope when three members of other law enforcement agencies from around the state visit the office.

Kathy Pascucci, chief of the sheriff's Planning, Policy and Accreditation Bureau, said the advantage to retaining accreditation is that it holds the agency to higher, more professional standards and can limit liability in lawsuits.

Pascucci said the inspectors will be touring facilities, interviewing employees and "checking to see if everyone is following sheriff's office policies and procedures while complying with accreditation standards."

The process has been repeated every three years since the agency was first accredited in 1997, and it costs about $2,000.

Junior firefighters: Gainesville Fire Rescue is accepting applications for the Junior Fire Academy, scheduled in April.

The program, which lasts one week and is held during spring break and again in the summer, is offered to middle school students interested in the fire department, the agency reported.

Students will be able to tour fire stations and use fire hoses, fire extinguishers, ladders and other firefighting equipment on a daily basis.

Participants will practice what they learn by putting out fires and using first-aid skills.

Space is limited to 20 students. Applications will be accepted through Feb. 1.

For more information, contact the Risk Reduction Office at 352-334-5065, or see the Risk Reduction, Youth Programs page at

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