On Tuesday, Jan. 5, Judge Nick Geeker swore in Chips Simmons as the new sheriff of Escambia County in a small ceremony at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Administrative Building.
Sheriff Simmons gave these brief remarks after the ceremony:
“I do want to just talk briefly about the one question that I get. The one question I get is, “What are you going to do?” Which is a good question, right? And so I want to just make sure that everyone understands what we will do. I will tell you that I will reinforce a commitment to service. We will be there when you need us, whether it’s a hurricane, a terrorist act, we will be there and we will be brave. We will be courteous. And we will be compassionate.
“The star on our chest will represent the best that Escambia has to offer—a symbol of strength of courage and of integrity. We will be professional and we will be transparent, but remember, we will not be perfect. The job of a law enforcement officer is more difficult than you can imagine. Seldom is there an absolute right or an absolute wrong. Rarely are solutions met with universal approval. Oftentimes actions are necessary, but ugly and many times misunderstood, but we will strive every day to be fair, always professional.
“We will show that kindness is not weakness. We will not concern ourselves with those who only strive to destroy. We will concern ourselves with the families, the mothers, the fathers, the uncles, the aunts, the neighbors, those who only want a better life for themselves and their children. These are the people, the citizens of Escambia County, that we will partner with, a partnership that will ensure that our future is the fair and just Escambia County that we all want.
“It is true that I am an optimist. I believe that with hard work and a commitment to common sense and decency that anything is possible. We’ve already begun an enhancement in our engagement strategy. Our neighborhood specialists will share information, share ideas and opportunities.
“We will soon open two precincts or substations, one Perdido and one in Molino. We will also look ahead and discuss the need for additional precincts in any other area of Escambia County. We will soon place a request to seize forfeited funds for the purchase of body cameras. I will work with the county commissioners on continuing the fair compensation for employees of the Escambia County Sheriff’s office, for funding support positions for the body camera program and for cadet positions so that we can feel a professional and a more diverse workforce.
“And, finally, we will work every day to be the Sheriff’s office that you can be proud of. One that is courteous. One that is committed. One that is strong and professional and one that is brave. A true reflection of the county that it serves, a county formed in 1821, exactly 200 years ago—
resilient, steadfast, and strong, literally weathering any storm that comes our way.
“In 1984, I began my law enforcement career right here at the Escambia County Sheriff’s office. I have come full circle, and I can tell you that I am proud to be a part of the Escambia County Sheriff’s office. And I am honored to be your sheriff. Thank you very much.”