CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — UPDATE, 1/14/2021: The Clay County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement about the investigation:
“Our detectives conducted a thorough investigation and consulted with the State Attorney’s Office. The investigation determined the officer was not speaking to a child, but an adult. Further, those actions were not criminal in nature. Such behavior was highly inappropriate, but not outside the parameters of the law. Through our investigation we do not believe the officer was speaking with any other underage individuals. Comments regarding the officer’s employment and law enforcement status must be directed to the Clay County District Schools.”
The Clay County District Schools Police Department said the officer has resigned. The Department’s administrative inquiry is nearly complete.
If sustained, the findings of the inquiry will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for possible sanctions on the officer’s law enforcement certificate.
UPDATE 12/9/2020: The Clay County Sheriff’s Office tells Action News Jax it first learned of the allegations made against a Clay County School District police officer on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Action News Jax reported a Clay County School police officer had been placed on administrative leave following allegations of the officer inappropriately texting a 14-year-old girl.
The allegations surfaced in a Facebook Live video showing the officer being confronted by a local man.
The man who took the video, Nathan Waits, told Action News Jax he had previously reached out to the Sheriff’s Office about the alleged messages in October.
Action News Jax reached out to the Sheriff’s Office for comment on when deputies were made aware of the allegations.
Today, CCSO spokesperson, Andrew Ford, provided the following statement.
“The Clay County Sheriff’s Office was made aware of these allegations yesterday and we are still in our investigation’s preliminary stages. We can tell you that Mr. Waits did not notify the sheriff’s office in October or speak to any of our investigators before yesterday. Mr. Waits sent a text message to a sheriff’s office landline phone, and therefore our office did not receive his complaint information,” said Ford.
A Clay County School District police officer is on administrative leave, accused of exchanging inappropriate messages with who he believed to a 14-year-old girl.
The allegations surfaced in a Tuesday Facebook Live video recorded by Nathan Waits, president of ‘Waits List.’ Waits tells Action News Jax his organization communicates with adults by posing as children on social media.
In Tuesday’s video, Waits is seen and heard confronting the uniformed officer at a Clay County school.
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“I’ve got her phone right here,” Waits tells the officer in the video. “So, what are we going to do about this? You’re a L.E.O. Are you kidding me? Do you not think that’s inappropriate?”
The Clay County School District Police Department, and the Clay County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), confirm to Action News Jax they’re investigating the allegations.
“The Clay County District Schools Police Department is aware of the allegations made on social media posted by a citizen on December 8, 2020. The Clay County District Schools Police Department Officer referenced in the post has been placed on administrative leave indefinitely pending the results of an internal investigation by the Clay County District Schools Police Department and an outside investigation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office,” said Nicole Young, Clay County School District spokesperson.
“The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the allegations made on a social media post by a citizen on December 8, 2020. The CCSO is working with the Clay County District Schools Police Department and is investigating the allegations,” said CCSO.
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Waits tells Action News Jax the officer believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl, but says the officer was unknowingly messaging the ‘Waits List’ organization.
Waits says the alleged messages with the officer began in September.
“He said very inappropriate things,” said Waits. “… Like I said on the video, asking about sexy bikini pictures. Why would you ask that from a 14-year-old?”
He says their organization does not initiate contact from the profiles they use to pose as children.
“We don’t get alerted to anybody, they come to us. They find our profiles, they friend request us, they follow us. And then they initiate the chats,” said Waits.
Waits claims his organization shared messages from the officer with a Clay County Sheriff’s Office detective in October, but never heard back.
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As a result, Waits says he opted for Tuesday’s in-person confrontation.
Action News Jax reached out to CCSO asking if Waits’ organization shared information about the officer with deputies in October, and whether an investigation was underway prior to Tuesday’s Facebook Live confrontation.
CCSO spokesperson, Andrew Ford, replied to our request for comment.
“This investigation is still in Its early stages and ongoing. When available, we will provide an update,” said Ford.
Action News Jax Law and Safety expert, and former FBI agent, Dale Carson, says investigators will need to determine the credibility of the allegations, before taking legal action.
“The investigating officers for the Sheriff’s Office, or other agency, can obtain the information, see whether it’s authentic or not, and then present it to the state attorney’s office, to determine whether or not it merits prosecution,” said Carson.