Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson retiring

Sheriff Ben Johnson, shown through the years, retiringPhotos for Headline Surfer / Affable lawman Ben Johnson is not seeking re-election in November for a 5th term: Volusia County's longtime elected sheriff, who is retiring at year's end, is shown here in multiple pics through the years.

By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla -- Volusia County Sheriff Ben Johnson announced this morning his intention to retire when his current term expires the end of this year.

The 64-year-old sheriff made the announcement at an emotional 11 a.m. press conference.

Johnson, first elected in 1999, has opted not to seek a fifth four-year term in November.

Johnson said in part, "There comes a time that all things must end," adding that he has "never forgotten that this is their office, not mine," referring to the citizens of Volusia County.

"I continue to be both grateful and humbled by the privilege bestowed upon me by the residents of this great county," Johnson said from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Stephen Saboda Training Center."

"I've worked hard every day to uphold the integrity of this office, maintain the public's trust and live up to the expectations of the voters who elected me," said Johnson, whose fourth four-year term ends Dec. 31, adding, "Most importantly, I've never forgotten that this is their office, not mine."

Johnson described his 15 years as sheriff and four decades overall with the VCSO, beginning in 1971 as a 21-year-old as a "great run in the job that I have absolutely loved." But the 65-year-old lawman  added, "There comes a time that all things must end."

In front of a gathering of his family, friends and staff, Johnson made the official announcement during an emotional news conference at the site of the agency’s training center in Daytona Beach. Minutes before the news conference, Johnson broke the news to employees at a staff meeting and also sent an e-mail message to the entire department announcing his decision.

“I continue to be both grateful and humbled by the privilege bestowed upon me by the residents of this great county,” Johnson told the assembled news media. “It has been a great run and a job that I have absolutely loved. But there comes a time when all things must end. And I’ve decided that time for me is drawing near. And so, with a great deal of thought and reflection, and in consultation with my family, I announce today that I will not be seeking another term as Sheriff.”

A DeLand native, the 65-year-old Johnson launched his career with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy sheriff on Oct. 15, 1971. He served for 26½ years in a career of achievement that spanned various positions of rank, responsibility and leadership, including district commander, shift commander and watch commander as well as serving as the head of the agency’s SWAT entry team. Johnson retired at the rank of lieutenant in May 1998, before launching his campaign to replace then-Sheriff Bob Vogel, who opted not to seek re-election.

Johnson bested a field of five candidates to win election in 2000 and was sworn into office on Jan. 2, 2001. Sheriff Johnson was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2004 without opposition and then defeated single opponents in 2008 and 2012, garnering more than 70 percent of the vote in both elections.

In 2011, Sheriff Johnson was elected president of the Florida Sheriffs Association. Some of Sheriff Johnson’s signature accomplishments during his time in office include a reduction in crime, the creation of the Volusia Bureau of Investigation, the establishment of a homeland security section and the initiation of crisis intervention training for deputies.

However, Johnson  said he considers his most lasting contribution to be the consolidation of all public safety dispatching in the county. And with his two biggest remaining goals -- deployment of body cameras for deputies in the field and planning for a new evidence facility -- nearing fruition, Sheriff Johnson said he will leave office at the end of the year with no regrets and feeling of unfinished business.

“Much has been accomplished, both within the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and the local law enforcement community during my tenure in office,” Johnson said. “But it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation and a new leader -- someone with fresh, new, bold ideas, someone who can take the Sheriff’s Office to that next level of service, success and achievement.”

“Much has been accomplished, both within the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and the local law enforcement community during my tenure in office,” Johnson said. “But it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation and a new leader -- someone with fresh, new, bold ideas, someone who can take the Sheriff’s Office to that next level of service, success and achievement.”

During his announcement, Sheriff Johnson gave a shout-out to his employees, both past and present, calling them the backbone of the agency and the ones who helped to move things forward in the agency. And he echoed that sentiment in his e-mail message to employees this morning before the press conference.

“Whether on the front lines responding to calls or in a behind-the-scenes support role, whether sworn or civilian, paid employee or volunteer, you all have equally shared in our successes and are equally responsible for making the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office one of the best and most respected law enforcement agencies in the state,” Sheriff Johnson wrote. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service, your work ethic and your dedication to the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens we serve. It is truly my honor to serve with each and every one of you!”

During a question and answer session with reporters, Johnson made a pitch for bigger raises for his employees. And he also said that while he doesn’t totally rule it out, he has no plans to run for higher office.

“Being a Sheriff is a great job,” Johnson said. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed working with the people. I’ve enjoyed being able to help. I’ve enjoyed fixing things.”

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.