County honors Sheriff Young – The Gadsden County Board of County Commissioner recognizes Sheriff Morris A. Young for the impact he has made on the community and for being the longest tenured African-American sheriff in the state.

Sheriff Morris A. Young was recently recognized by the Gadsden Board of County Commissioners for being the longest serving African-American sheriff in Florida.

Before presenting Young with a proclamation on behalf of the board, Commissioner Ronterious Green said one reason the recommendation was made was because of the impact the sheriff has had on his community.

“The sheriff has continued to sew; even things that we will never know that he has done, he is doing,” Green said.

Born and raised in Gretna, Young said he got into law enforcement because he was just looking for a job.

“I had a friend of mine who put in at Quincy Public Safety. Back then it was fire and police and I enquired about it, and they hired me as a fireman.”

Young went to fire school for a year, and once he received his certification he went to the police academy and became dually certified.

“From there, I started my law enforcement career,” Young said.

He worked for the City of Quincy for 11 years before moving on to the sheriff’s office in 1999.

Young was working as an investigator when then sheriff W.A. Woodham told him he had an opening and asked him to come work for him.

Young first ran for sheriff in 2000 but lost to Woodham who had held the office since 1971.

He ran again after Woodham retired, and became the sheriff of Gadsden County in 2004, making him the second black sheriff in Florida history, and the first in Gadsden county.

Nearly 20 years later, Young said his biggest challenge has been running his department in a fiscally restrained county.

“I know and understand that funding is really tight in Gadsden County and to really run a sheriff’s office there are a lot of needs,” Young shared. 

Young said outdated equipment and low salaries have contributed to those struggles.

“It’s really had a foothold on this agency, keeping it from really progressing,” Young said.

In the last 10 years, Young has become more involved in the legislative process, finding ways to pull funds from the state instead of always going to the county commission.

Young said that has been one of his greatest accomplishments.

“I fostered a relationship–at one time I relied on lobbyists–I sort of figured out the fact that being sheriff, this afforded me many opportunities to go through different doors, such as the governor’s, and the cabinet’s, and legislators’ who sit on financial committees that help Gadsden County.

Young said in the last year he helped secure millions of dollars for Gadsden County; more than $10 million of that will be used for a new public safety complex that will be located on Pat Thomas Parkway.

The sheriff said the county recently hired the architects to design the facility.

“It’s going to be comprised of law enforcement, communication (dispatch), and emergency management,” Young shared. 

The sheriff said the complex will also hold a real-time crime center where cameras stationed throughout the county will be monitored.

“If crime occurs in that area then we’re right on it,” Young said.

Young expressed his role as sheriff goes beyond political party lines.

“This is a deeply red state and Gadsden County is such a blue county,” Young said.

Gadsden recently received $77 million in state funding, which came off the heels of the sheriff endorsing Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, a move that surprised many of Young’s supporters.

“It really hurts my career as a democratic sheriff when I endorse republicans,” Young expressed. “Sometimes people don’t understand it, but we have gotten nothing, being true blue. Regardless of who the governor is–that office is going to change every four to eight years–but Gadsden is going to be here forever.”

Young said he has a great relationship with DeSantis and former Gov. Rick Scott, who is now a  United States Senator.

“I call on them…I challenge them to help a democratic county,” Young said.

Col. Bobby Collins said Young is a great person to work for because he cares about people.

“He’s big on community and making sure the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office is inclusive of the community,” Collins said. “He has a huge heart…he has a big heart, and he always instills that we are going to make sure that we prioritize the citizens of the county in all of our daily duties”

Collins also said the sheriff ensures his department has the resources to address the needs of the people.

“He is the longest serving African-American sheriff in the history of the state of Florida and I think that’s a great achievement, considering it’s only four African-Americans who are serving in the state of Florida, and to be the longest tenured in the history, that’s an accomplishment in itself.”

Collins said the sheriff was instrumental in getting pay raises for the deputies in the other 28 fiscally constrained counties, not just Gadsden.

“It’s unheard of for counties to get money from the state for funding for deputies,” Collins said. “Normally that comes from the Board of County Commissioners in the respective counties but the sheriff took the forefront on that and it’s reoccurring,” Collins noted.

Gadsden County gets $800,000 a year in recurring funding to supplement deputies’ and county correctional officer’s salaries.

He also created several pilot programs for some of the county’s most vulnerable citizens–senior citizens and the youth.

When he’s not policing the county or lobbying, Young said he’s spending time with his family, which he admitted he isn’t able to do as often as he would like because his job as sheriff never ends.

Young’s wife, Kathy, brought him lunch as he was being interviewed by The Gadsden County News. Corp.

“She has felt everything I have in politics,” the sheriff said.

The two have been together for 36 years. Next month will mark 34 years they have been marrie.d

Although they graduated from James A. Shanks High School together, they didn’t start dating until after they finished school.

“She didn’t even look at me,” Young said.

“We talked in the hallway,” Kathy said with a smile.

They have one son and three grandchildren who live in Orlando.

“That’s my pride and joy,” the sheriff said. “Now I know how my grandparents felt.”

Erin Hill – Gadsden County News Service


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