Sergeant Willie A. Jones: A life and legacy worth celebrating
By Sylvester “Nunnie” Robinson
Life beyond the shield intuitively captures the essence of Sergeant Willie A. Jones, who recently celebrated a long and distinguished career in law enforcement on Nov. 15, 2014 at the Marriott in Deerfield Beach, Fla. Born in Miami, Fla. his parents, Eleman and Essie Jones, understood the value of and stressed education at an early age, imploring him to excel academically.
He attended Gladeview Elementary, Madison Junior High and graduated from Miami Central High School in 1973. While at Central he excelled academically and athletically both as an honor roll student and as an outstanding linebacker for the Rockets football team. Choosing a career in law enforcement, he began as a corrections officer with Metro Dade County, gaining invaluable experience in booking, releasing, classifying and transporting individuals remanded into the custody and control of the agency. That experience and perspective ignited a desire to higher education, inspiring his enrollment in St. Thomas University. His passion for higher education subsequently led to BS and MS degrees in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix.
In 1980 after graduating from the police academy, he joined the FLPD as a road patrol officer, which became his passion and calling, because it allowed him positive interaction with the people and communities he so passionately swore to serve. In this capacity as a positive role model, especially for children and young Black males who so often through personal experience see law enforcement negatively, he dramatically changed that dynamic, accepting without pause the late Sheriff Ron Cochran’s offer for him to expand his expertise in community policing by becoming the first African American to join the newly formed Mount Unit, one of several first in his distinguished career.
Steadfast in his conviction that police departments and their leadership too often failed to address minority concerns, he along with other Black officers formed A.I.M – Alliance of Involved Minorities – to improve relations with minority communities and the police.
Sergeant Jones became the organization’s first president and though the name has changed (Fort Lauderdale Black Police Officer Association) the goals remain the same. Sgt. Jones left law enforcement in1987, resigning from the FLPD, accepting a position with the Oasis Institute/Federal Housing Department.
Not only did he travel all the country speaking to community groups and leaders, law enforcement and police departments regarding strategies for creating workable partnerships while endeavoring to change slum and blighted communities, he also assisted with developing techniques for national and international implementation of Oasis concepts.
After resigning this position in 1989, he joined The National Urban League as a Project Manager. Duties included managing day to day operations dealing with substance abuse prevention, developing and implementing projects which raised awareness of teenage pregnancy prevention, and authoring or co-authoring pro-grams dealing with bringing boys into manhood. While employed with the Urban League, he also became a certified birth instructor.
In1995, he returned to his passion and roots, accepting a position with the Broward Sheriff’s Office in unincorporated District 9, as a patrol officer in District 2, Dania Beach, and as a school resource officer at Collins Elementary. Promoted to the rank of Sergeant, he was transferred to District 5 where he supervised the drug S.E.T Unit with a directive to reduce citizen complaints against deputies in the unit, a mission he accomplished with great aplomb.
Sergeant Jones, always an effective fundraiser, successfully chaired the Special Olympics Charity, doubling the amount raised the previous year in Dania.
His transfer to District 11, Pompano Beach, allowed him to cement his legacy as a visionary in community/police relations, spending the last 13 years of his career of service in the following assignments: organizing town hall meetings with community leaders to address concerns, supervising special events from a law enforcement perspective, over-seeing tangible assets of the district as the Administrative Sergeant, managing the emergency operation center’s equipment and supplies, Echo Field Force Supervisor, Records Manager and Housing and Nuisance Abatement coordinator.
Willie states with great pride, “I have enjoyed the 39 plus years of service to all of the communities I’ve been privileged to serve, both from the law enforcement and civilian sides. It’s been a great ride and I would not have given it up for any other.” His years of service, community involvement and dedication as an officer of the law was recognized by his being featured in the 2006-7 edition of Global Register’s Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals, a well-deserved honor and recognition of a tremendously successful, professional career dedicated to public service.
A devoted husband to his lovely wife of 28 years, Lareta, he is also a dedicated father and grandfather to daughters Keisha and Nikki and five grandchildren. Sgt. Jones is also a joyous, devoted member of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church where Reverend Robert C. Stanley is senior pastor.
Additional affiliations include membership in the Eta Nu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla.; Police Benevolent Association, Free Masonry, Pompano Beach Kiwanis and the MLK Planning Committee among others. Citations, proclamations and reflections were heartfelt and varied, coming from dignitaries such as former Pompano Beach Commissioner Woodrow Poitier, Pompano Beach Mayor Lamar Smit, Pastor Robert Stanley, Virginia Jones from the Coral Springs Police Department and Jim Schott, retired Broward Sheriff’s Deputy. We joined them in saluting an exemplary man who performed an often difficult profession in exemplary fashion.