Every day the Clay County Sheriff’s Office website keeps a running list, the “daily bulletin,” of arrests that have occurred. But some names don’t appear on the online arrest log – or mugshots on the inmate list – due to how the sheriff’s department tries to comply with exemptions in the state’s Sunshine law.
If certain county employees are arrested, they can sign an exemption form and their name won’t appear on the arrest log. Even former employees who resign or retire retain this option. The exemption can also apply to their immediate family members, who are provided the same form as their agency-employed spouse or parent, removing them from the daily bulletin.
The public records exemption form, also called the C163 form, is available to designated personnel such as law enforcement officers, corrections officers, civilian employees of law enforcement agencies, firefighters, judges and other county and law enforcement-related positions.
When one of these employees is arrested, these exemptions are granted, resulting in their names not being listed – essentially hidden from public disclosure until a public records request is submitted.
News organizations frequently review the arrest log to ask for arrest reports under the state’s public records laws.
The exemption is granted to certain public employees, all first responders and law enforcement-related personnel in Florida, not just Clay County employees. A Duval County law enforcement officer, for example, would be given the same option of being omitted from the arrest log, according to the sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office cites Florida Statute 119.07, an exemption to Florida’s Government in the Sunshine Law, for their handling of the arrest information omitted from the online dockets.
The exemption exists to protect law enforcement officers and other public service employees from having their addresses, telephone numbers or other information disclosed that might put them in danger. The exemption does not preclude an arrest of an officer or family member from being made public.
The online system that generates the daily log of arrests is referred to as the “P2C system” Clay County Sheriff’s Office Deputy and Public Information Officer Andrew Ford explained. When someone is arrested but signs an exemption form, the P2C system is turned off and, therefore, that individual’s name is not added to the list, he said.
“If you wanted a comprehensive list of all arrested persons that day, you would have to submit a public records request,” Ford said. “Otherwise, the names of people who submitted an exemption form are withheld because of their statutory exemption.”
Florida Statute 119.071 says certain information maintained by state agencies is exempt from public disclosure and is therefore deemed confidential. This includes Social Security numbers, medical and financial information. Additionally, it provides for the exemption of home addresses and telephone numbers for certain occupational groups, their spouses and children.
The statute does not say anything about exemption from an online arrest log, or “docket,” but Ford said because of the P2C system being computer-generated, they immediately turn it off so not to accidentally include an arrested personnel’s address, Social Security number or telephone number.
The agency’s arrest logs include the age of the person arrested along with the location of their arrest and the sheriff’s office says these are reasons why the names of those arrested must be omitted.
However, it should be noted that specific addresses for arrested persons are not included in the daily log of arrests, only the block in which the person was arrested, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrest bulletin.
The sheriff’s office maintains that their system does not allow them to edit the arrest information in order for the employee’s name to be added to the arrest log.
To view the sheriff’s arrest log, click here.
NewsBreak recently obtained from the sheriff’s office copies of exemption forms signed since January 2021.
Four former or current employees in Clay County have taken advantage of the exemption since January 2021 and have not been included in the Sheriff’s Office’s arrest log. The spouse of an employee also was given an exemption, as well as a former volunteer firefighter.
- Leslie Dayton, a former Clay County Sheriff’s Office employee in the communications department, was arrested May 25, 2021 for disorderly conduct and domestic violence. Dayton resigned from his position with the sheriff’s office on Aug. 24, 2018; he was still granted an exemption because of his previous position. His case was closed in August 2022, after he pleaded guilty and was charged with disorderly conduct, received a $323 fine and six-month probation that could be terminated after completion of special conditions.
- Harrison Mosley, a former volunteer firefighter with Clay County Fire and Rescue, was arrested June 3, 2021, for grand theft. His case was closed after he pleaded guilty to the charges Nov. 22, 2021. He was sentenced to probation.
- Mathew Kite, the husband of a Clay County Sheriff’s Office employee, was arrested Jan. 7, 2022, for reckless driving and driving under the influence. His case was closed April 2022 after he pleaded guilty and was charged with reckless driving, a $965 fine and 11 months of probation that was terminated upon his completion of DUI school and a victim impact panel.
- Paul Mauricio, a Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputy, was arrested April 13, 2022, for sexual battery against a minor. His case is active with the next pretrial date set for Sept. 20.
- Timothy Kemper, a firefighter with Clay County Fire and Rescue, was arrested June 3, 2022 for boating under the influence. His case closed August 2022 after he pleaded guilty and received a $273 fine.
- Matthew Breeland, a firefighter with Clay County Fire and Rescue, was arrested July 10, 2022 for battery and domestic violence. His case is active with his most recent pretrial hearing to be held on Oct. 6.
None of these people were listed on the Sheriff’s Office daily bulletin. Sheriff Michelle Cook, however, did hold a press conference, when Deputy Mauricio was arrested to announce his immediate termination and outline information regarding his arrest.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office is not the only agency that is not listing daily arrests.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office frequently allows the same procedures to happen, First Coast News Metro Editor Scott Butler said.
“It is, unfortunately, very common and JSO does it with arrests they don’t want people to know about just yet,” he said. “As for county employees, I know that law enforcement and first responders have had more protections and exemptions like this. Particularly, I recall their booking photos do not have to be released.”
Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, told Butler in an email that the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office cannot selectively withhold the names of those arrested from a jail log.
“Those names can be withheld only if there is a specific statutory exemption and if the JSO redacts the names, then insist on the exact statutory citation authorizing the redaction,” she said. “They’re required to provide you with that citation. It doesn’t matter how frequently or when you request the jail logs.”