This will be my last guest column as your sheriff.
While campaigning for Brevard County Sheriff in 2004, I promised the citizens that I would only serve two consecutive four-year terms.
I kept my promise, and Jan. 7 will be my last day as your sheriff.
I would like to use this opportunity to thank the many people who made my time as your sheriff very rewarding and helped us succeed as a Sheriff's Office.
I am deeply indebted to the citizens of Brevard County for allowing me to have this honor. Our citizens care deeply about our community and have been very supportive of their Sheriff's Office.
Although we have had some very challenging financial times, our citizens have stepped up to support us, time and time again. Operating one of the largest Sheriff's Offices in the nation can be a tough job, but it has been made much easier because of our citizens' trust and support.
As an example, the outpouring of love and compassion from our citizens following the murder of our beloved Deputy Barbara Pill is something that will stay with me and the 1,400 members of the Sheriff's Office forever.
We have also been blessed to have had a board of county commissioners and county manager that continuously place a high priority on protecting our citizens. While they have worked hard behind the scenes to ensure there was no wasted or unnecessary spending in the Sheriff's Office, they did not blindly cut public safety funding.
There are many examples of law enforcement agencies across our state and nation that have been negatively impacted by poorly thought-out budget cuts, which greatly diminished public safety resulting in higher crime rates.
Our commissioners have continued to state that their highest priority was to protect our citizens, and their actions have backed up their words.
While there are many reasons Brevard County is safe and enjoys a low crime rate, the fact that our commissioners give law enforcement the tools to do the job is a critical factor in our success.
I will never be able to adequately thank the men and women of our Sheriff's Office. Working with these courageous individuals is the part of the job that I will miss more than anything else. To see the level of caring these people demonstrate on a daily basis is truly inspiring.
I have been so fortunate to be part of a team of people who always puts the needs of others before their own.
I am also grateful for a command staff that is second to none. These leaders are far from "yes men," and each of them have been outstanding leaders in their own right. There is no sheriff who could fail, who was surrounded by these incredible individuals.
On a personal note, I would like to thank two people in my life who have had the greatest impact on me as a person. First, my wife, Yvette, constantly reminds me about what is important. As one example of many, about 10 years ago, I was driving with my wife to my very first political debate. I was unusually quiet and she asked me "Are you nervous?" I said, "Yes." Then, she said, "That's because you are more worried about yourself than the people you are supposed to serve. It isn't about you." I was never nervous about a public speaking engagement again.
Second, my pastor, Dr. Larry Linkous of New Life Christian Fellowship in Titusville, has had a profound effect on my life. I could not imagine having to face the challenges of being sheriff without him. He has brought me closer to God than I would have ever thought possible and improved my ability to pray for God's wisdom and guidance. It would be my hope that anyone in search of a truly anointed pastor would consider spending some time listening to Dr. Linkous. It will change their lives, as it has mine.
While looking back, we have had great success in our Sheriff's Office. From correcting jail overcrowding to targeting sex offenders to ridding our communities of violent criminals and reducing the crime rate, we have had a strong run.
But when you consider the support we have had from our citizens and our commissioners, and couple that with the abilities of our extremely capable and caring law enforcement and corrections personnel, it is hard to imagine having anything but success.
I will be proudly turning the reins of this Sheriff's Office over to Sheriff Wayne Ivey. I have every confidence that he will be a wonderful sheriff, who will enjoy many successes and will lift our agency to even greater heights.
Thank you for the trust you placed in me to be your sheriff.
Jack Parker is the sheriff of Brevard County.