2017 Business Leaders of the Year | Civic Engagement
In most people’s minds the purpose of law enforcement is to apprehend criminals, which of course is true. But for Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, his mission takes on another, perhaps more significant, dimension — to prevent crime from ever taking place.
This approach requires a thoughtful and long-term perspective on looking into a community deep enough to uncover the factors that contribute to criminal activity and juvenile delinquency and address them. Solutions may include starting a neighborhood youth program, having officers assigned to schools, speaking to parents about their responsibility to educate and train their children, or finding creative ways to build coalitions between civic groups and law enforcement partners across the community and state. This is how Ivey has lived up to the oft-repeated motto of law enforcement agencies around the country to “protect and serve.”
When he first ran for sheriff in 2012, Ivey was able to articulate the importance of law enforcement to the business community and to economic development. “When a person is making a decision to move to a community, one of the things they check, along with property prices and the school system, is the local crime rate,” he said. “Therefore, when discussing economic development, crime is one of the issues we have to consider. And unfortunately, the economy and crime are connected much like an elevator cable – when one is down the other goes up.”
Ivey believes his primary goal is to keep citizens from ever becoming the victims of crimes. “We have a well-trained group of detectives and officers who can work the case and solve the crime once it has happened, but there’s still a victim at that point,” he explained. “We want to take advantage of every tool at our disposal to ensure you have the information you need to protect yourself, whether from violent crime or identify theft; and to that end, education is the key. If we can educate our community members on the steps they can take to protect themselves, we’re empowering them against being a victim of crime.”
Ivey has had a distinguished 30-year career in law enforcement, including being a Resident Agent in Charge for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. As a member of that department, Ivey created and deployed the country’s first statewide task force on identity theft. His hard work and dedication have earned him numerous local, state and national awards, and his programs have achieved astonishing success in reducing crime. One of them, the Child Abduction Response Team (C.A.R.T.), is used as the nationwide model in child abduction response and investigation.
Local technology giant Harris Corporation called Ivey a “forward-thinking leader and innovator who embraces technology and smart-policing tactics to solve a wide range of challenges.” But it is not only in innovative law enforcement programs where Ivey has made his mark. His agency is the host of the highly successful Dancing for the Space Coast, an exciting event that teams local celebrities with dance professionals to raise money and awareness for local charities. In addition, 10 percent of the event’s proceeds go directly to support the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Charity, Inc., established to assist Brevard County law enforcement officers and fire fighters/paramedics in their time of need.
Though his job requires him to be involved in investigations that would cause most of us to experience sleepless nights, Ivey’s positive, proactive and unjaded demeanor allows all of us to rest easier. As cordial as he is courageous, he is one of Brevard’s most respected and engaged civic leaders.