When the Duval County sheriff said he would lock up reporters from local newspapers if they kept "interfering" in his business, no one took the threat lightly.Asked how the Sheriff could stay in office for 20 years given his boorish behavior, the Duval County Attorney said, "He's a great politician and a terrible sheriff."
For 20 years, Sheriff Santiago Barrera Jr. had done what he pleased with no challenges to his reign. He decided who sat in his jail and when they were released. Sometimes it was before a judge got involved and other times it was after.
"I brought the sheriff's department from nothing to what it is right now," said the 67-year-old Barrera.
That's why journalists are on edge about Barrera's recent threat to an Alice Echo-News Journal reporter.
Christopher Maher wrote a front-page story about the arrest of the sheriff's 42-year-old son Miguel Barrera on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest. According to the newspaper, when Maher called the sheriff about another story, Barrera said, "If you guys keep interfering with my business, I'm going to have you arrested."
Nicole Perez, managing editor of the Echo-News Journal and The Freer Press alerted the county attorney.
"I am bringing these remarks to your attention in the hope that they will remain as such, just remarks," Perez wrote Duval County Attorney Ricardo Carrillo. "However, considering the volatile political atmosphere in Duval County I have no doubt that Sheriff Barrera would carry out such a threat."
Santiago Barrera confirmed he made the remarks to the reporter, and acknowledged the newspaper's story about his son's arrest upset him.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Sheriff threatens reporters with jail for writing about son's arrest
As public relations strategies go, this seems a little heavy handed, but then Duval County (home of disgraced Democratic kingmaker Clinton Manges, the famed "Duke of Duval") has always been known for its iron-fisted pols. Reported AP ("Sheriff threatens reporters with jail," March 13):
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