Neighborhood walks bring feelings of safety

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 11/15/17

MIDDLEBURG – Secluded from the busier parts of Middleburg, the residential area of Calendula and Petunia avenues is best described as quiet and peaceful.

As Sheriff Darryl Daniels and his …

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Neighborhood walks bring feelings of safety


MIDDLEBURG – Secluded from the busier parts of Middleburg, the residential area of Calendula and Petunia avenues is best described as quiet and peaceful.

As Sheriff Darryl Daniels and his entourage of officers walked the along the dirt road on Nov. 14, surrounded by houses, laid back behind long driveways and a covering tree line, he was met with an appreciation of these neighborhood walks.

Quite a few residents, though, described to Daniels a problem ruining the tranquility the residents have come to know of the area.

“There’s just too many four-wheelers and trucks driving fast through these roads, doing doughnuts and such,” said Ann Arnold, a resident of the area. “There’s just too many kids for people to be driving recklessly like that.”

Daniels nodded in agreement and told Arnold that the Clay County Sheriff’s Office would look into it.

Libbie and William Collins, on the other hand, face a new and different problem in their part of the neighborhood. They described to the sheriff a group of people, dressed in dark clothes, skulking around the neighborhood. Although this group of people haven’t done anything illegal, the behavior is strange for the Collins’ to witness.

“We’ve been here 25 years and for some reason, these people just walk the streets at night,” said William Collins. “It might be nothing, but it might be something for the Sheriff’s Office to look into.”

Daniels called Chief Richard Elkins, who is the chief of the CCSO Patrol Division, to come and assess the situation. Elkins told the Collins that he would ensure a patrol unit makes its way to the neighborhood at night to look into the odd time foot traffic.

The Collins said goodbye to the sheriff feeling grateful he personally visited them and ensured they feel safe, which, according to Daniels, is why these neighborhood walks take place.

“I got elected to deal with the people’s concerns,” Daniels said. “Statistics can show someone they are safe but that doesn’t matter if they don’t feel safe.”

“The purpose of these neighborhood walks, among many things, is to not only show, but also make these people feel safe,” he continued.

These neighborhood walks began as a way to check on the neighborhoods with the most criminal activity, but according to Daniels, because of the amount of walks his team and himself have made, they no longer need to target certain neighborhoods.

“We’re at a point now where we are going to neighborhoods, not just Orange Park, not just Keystone Heights, not just Middleburg, to cover and saturate the entirety of Clay County, both good neighborhoods and bad neighborhoods,” Daniels said.

This neighborhood walk began the same way it ended – by talking to the Loper family, specifically daughters Ashlynn, Addison and Aubrie Loper. Courtesy of the sheriff, all three of these Clay County residents were given the esteemed honor of Junior Deputy.

“This is amazing,” said the three of them, echoing each other, when asked about how their new position feels.

Although years younger than the other residents Daniels talked to, Ashlynn, Addison and Aubrie are grateful for the neighborhood walks the sheriff makes.

“It makes us feel appreciated and show that he cares about us and our community,” Addison said.

Ashlynn bounced off of that explaining how safe she feels because of the walks.

“It makes us feel safe because a lot of people don’t drive as they should down these roads,” Addison said.

“A lot of people drive crazy down these roads and it’s bad because we can’t even ride our bikes down our road without somebody racing by,” Aubrie said.

Daniels promised his three new Junior Deputies that this problem would be fixed so that they can get back out there on their bikes.

“Thank you, sheriff,” said the three Loper girls in return.


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