My Platform

My entire professional career in law enforcement has been here in Lee County, FL. For over three decades, I’ve poured my life into understanding the agency and looking for opportunities to make it greater. Injecting myself in nearly every position and department in the agency has given me a unique insight into areas that need serious improvement.

Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative
Florida ranks 3rd in the Nation for human trafficking.

Not having a proactive plan in place is not an option.

There are additional criminal elements to almost every human trafficking situation. Whether it be narcotics use, prostitution or physical abuse, statistics prove that these crews will be running into law enforcement. It is my intent to require mandatory specialized training to better familiarize officers with the signs of this cruel exploitation.

Fully utilizing the public is essential to this initiative’s success by way of anonymous hotlines for victim and community reporting with a potential financial compensation as well as public awareness campaigns.  

I will make sure that at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office anti-human trafficking efforts are highly prioritized, staffed and funded. All successful law enforcement entails a multi-pronged approach and as such, I plan to work closely with state and federal agencies to eliminate this threat in Lee County.

The prevention, protection, and successful prosecution of sex trafficking will take a community effort and under my command, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will have a strong presence against this merciless victimization.

Special Response Team
… for those with Intellectual or Emotional Disabilities or Impairments

As nighttime Watch Commander, I identified a growing trend in calls for community service involving emotionally disturbed individuals or citizens with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD), suicide attempts and unintentional overdoses. At that time, I proposed an initiative to form a Special Response Team to assist these highly sensitive and potentially volatile calls.

To date, this particular unit does not exist in Lee County, and I feel that these circumstances warrant advanced care.

The fact that this team still has not been implemented is a telltale that decision-makers in the agency are entirely out of touch with the needs of the officers working the road and the citizens of Lee County. The current method is grossly inefficient and results in a strain on all parties involved: the officer, medical staff and ultimately the member of the community that needs our help.

The development of this team will create better teamwork between law enforcement, EMS, hospital personnel and patients alike which will ultimately lessen the probability of issues arising from these high-risk calls and significantly reducing potential lawsuits. The implementation of this team alone can save the citizens of Lee County countless dollars and allow me to better use those resources in the areas we need it most.

Task Force for Opioid Crisis
When you research opioid misuse, the words “crisis” and “epidemic” are commonly used. It’s not just a problem locally; it is growing across the nation.

Nearly everyone you talk to has a family member or close family friend who has become a victim of this opioid epidemic—the problem is touching every family in America.

To some extent, I’m confident this is being addressed. However, it’s clear that this issue is not as much of a priority as is warranted.

The Narcotics Division is the unit designed to handle this issue, and they do a fantastic job. But having worked in Narcotics, I have an appreciation and have seen firsthand that a multi-agency effort is a force with which to be reckoned. With the opioid issue, specifically, a multi-pronged approach goes farther than street level, and new workforce and resources are crucial for the success of these types of investigations.

It’s a simple formula: Reduced Presence of Opioids + Reduced Access = Reduced Usage by the community at large.

Additionally, most estimates relate over 80% of all crimes to narcotic use which means we can expect a drop in the crime rate with the successful implementation of this task force.

Integrity and Ethical Steadfastness
As the Captain in charge of the Internal Affairs Unit, I observed that individuals were hired based on their skill set and fired due to moral or ethical failings. I determined to make it a priority to emphasize the importance of integrity and ethical steadfastness in my employees, beginning in the hiring process.
Proactive Policing
Would you rather law enforcement respond to a crime that has occurred or have the crime not happen in the first place?

Proactive policing is when law enforcement officials are looking for crimes when and or just before they occur, as opposed to reactively responding after the crimes occur only to merely write a report and send off for investigation.

As a road deputy, early in my career, I witnessed firsthand the effect that proactive policing has on the community. Through this practice of proactive policing, I was able to make numerous arrests which lead to being nominated and awarded “Deputy of the Month” four times. Implementing this concept agency-wide will ultimately lead to getting the bad guys off the streets, lowering the crime rate and making Lee County a safer place for the children, families and loved ones.

Adequate Staffing
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have statistical information regarding all forms of law enforcement metrics. One such stat is the number of law enforcement personnel per capita.

According to Cubit Planning, Lee County ranks eighth in the state—out of sixty-seven counties— for population size (info received from https://www.florida-demographics.com/counties_by_population). Despite its size, our community ranks SECOND-TO-LAST in sworn law enforcement officers per 1000 citizens. The national average is roughly two and a half times that of our current staffing. 

You may ask yourself “why isn’t this happening already?” I believe that whether it be intentional or unintentional, the reason is the same: neglect. A lack of adequate staffing is a prime example of “experience” being paramount in the selection of Sheriff.

Gross understaffing can be observed throughout the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, particularly in Road Patrol, Corrections and Communications. What would twice as much workforce on the streets of Lee County mean to you? To start, it would mean faster response times, safer responses for both the public and law enforcement and a much-needed return to proactive policing.

This immediate improvement sets us on the projection for long-term success, but it does so much more than that. The educational and social programs both in the community and the correctional facilities are shown to reduce recidivism; additional staff can reduce altercations and in turn lower medical costs. The ripple effects of Adequate Staffing are countless.

Shooter Scenario Training
While most of us are all too familiar with the term, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines an Active Shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area… and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.” (Information received from: https://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/active_shooter_booklet.pdf)

While all sworn personnel in Lee County are active shooter trained annually, I believe this isn’t enough, especially in regards to School Resource Officers and Court Operations/Bailiffs. Being in the areas most likely for an Active Shooter Scenario to occur, the personnel mentioned above should receive enhanced training with increased frequency.  

Unfortunately, these scenarios erupt quickly and evolve even faster. Law enforcement response training and preparedness are our best lines of defense against these deadly crimes.

Realignment of Resources
Making the agency more efficient is pivotal to maximizing our opportunities and successes. Putting the right people in the right positions is key to this efficiency. Currently, there are individuals in assignments who would better serve the citizens of Lee County in other areas.

This realignment will allow me to put more boots on the street, which is at a critical mass and is the very first task I’ll undertake as your Sheriff.

I cannot stress it enough: more boots on the ground lowers the crime rate, increases public awareness of law enforcement and creates a safer community in which we live.

A Promise of Fiscal Responsibility
The LCSO has the ninth largest budget in the state, yet remains close to last in several categories. Where are these funds going? How are they being used?

Lee County deserves to have every penny in the budget that the citizens and County Commissioners of Lee County have approved to be spent in the areas that would best serve the county.

While this is a lot to take on, it’s only the beginning of what can happen when real-world experience can meet the needs of our community.

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Countdown to August 18
Primary Election Day!

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… I am a retired Police Officer from North Carolina…  Jim is an honest and caring man for the people of Lee County. I have seen Jim talk with, listen to, and understand the people of Lee County. Jim has earned my vote and I hope he will earn yours too.

Fred S.

As an ex-employee of the State Attorney’s Office (employed almost 18 years), I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jim Leavens on numerous felony trials in front of numerous judges.  This man was dedicated to justice and seeing that trials went off without a hitch.  You could faithfully count on him for court.  I firmly believe in his dedication to our community and keeping it safe, and to seeing that justice gets served.  You couldn’t ask for a more upstanding candidate to head the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.  You’ve definitely got my vote Jim!

Rachel L.

You were a great and experienced cop and I am sure you will be a fair and humble leader. This is what LCSO DESPERATELY needs!

Dr. James C.

I fully and wholeheartedly support and endorse Jim Leavens for Lee County Sheriff!! Our County NEEDS a man with his integrity and excellent character!!

Dawn K.

I’m thrilled with the thought of Sheriff Leavens!! Honesty, integrity!

John K.

Fully support Mr. Leavens. Worked with this gentleman for years but on opposite sides. He was in a green uniform and I was in a blue…Now that we are both out of the LEO field we both continually talk about what is going on in our area. No, I don’t need a job, but I listen and I like what I hear…

Todd L.

Lee County needs JIM LEAVENS

Patricia C.

Jim Leavens has my full support in his run for Lee County Sheriff. I’ve worked with Jim for almost a year now and can say without a doubt that he is one of the most honest and compassionate people that I know. His integrity and his commitment to his community are unmatched.

Trask S.

As a retired Police Officer from Lee County Florida, I support Jim Leavens for Sheriff

Eric R.