JSO Assistant Chief Jimmy Judge: Serving and protecting in partnership with the community

JSO Assistant Chief Jimmy Judge: Serving and protecting in partnership with the community
JSO Assistant Chief Jimmy Judge with his sister, Jeanine, who is an officer with the St. John's County Sheriff's Office.

In the October edition of The Resident, we asked readers to nominate their favorite community hero, someone who has been going the extra mile to make sure their neighborhood is healthy, safe, and secure. Nominated by the Downtown Dwellers was JSO Assistant Chief James Judge, and he is our winner. He will receive a dinner for two from Bellwether Restaurant, compliments of The Resident Community News.

We, the Downtown Dwellers, a community organization whose members live in Jacksonville’s urban core on both sides of the St. Johns River, have a hero we’d like to tell you about. Our story derives from shared insights during the three years we’ve known our hero, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Assistant Chief James Judge. 

 We met Assistant Chief Judge at a Downtown Vision meeting. Before we spoke, we watched him across the room. Slim, tall, muscular, the commander obviously worked out. He also seemed kind and friendly, interested in people. At that meeting, he asked us to call him Jimmy, and outlined his plan for enhancing police-community communication in Zone One, the Downtown area. He looked people in the eye and listened carefully before he spoke.

After the meeting, he encouraged his officers to talk with us. We stayed to listen to the well-prepared officers share his message. This first glimpse of Jimmy Judge let us know he cared about our city and our people and put his men before himself. Right away, we liked him. 

Over the past three years, we’ve observed Jimmy in different settings. When someone was angry, he watched them like a cat, taking the person’s measure before acting. If he committed to something, he did it. We counted on him. All business, Jimmy also knew how to kid and have fun.

The man strived to meet community needs. When a lady who walked her dog at night discovered the parking lot between the Chart House restaurant and the Peninsula Condominiums had become a drug haven, she told us, and we told Jimmy. At that time, the commander position for Zone 3, the South Bank, was in transition. The next day, the needles and drug paraphernalia were gone and patrolling increased. Soon people felt comfortable walking their dogs at night. In addition to increased patrols, the area became a location for introducing young people to crime reduction. When the new Zone 3 commander, Assistant Chief Paul Restivo, arrived, Jimmy filled him in on South Bank issues and made sure we met. 

When Jimmy learned the homeless on the North Bank had set up residence around the Plaza Condominiums and the Riverwalk Townhomes, it was with great compassion he ensured they moved to shelters where they could have clean clothes, food, and a place to sleep.  

While the Downtown area has been perceived as unsafe, Jimmy took pride in informing the community of the statistics. The Downtown was a low crime area, a safe place for residents and visitors to enjoy. Jimmy has provided our Downtown Dwellers organization with speakers for our meetings and protection for our outdoor events. A wonderful collaborator, he has kept the North and South Banks and the greater urban core clean and safe. 

In this time of confrontation and misunderstanding, Jimmy Judge has been the embodiment of the police services we value. Clearly, he fulfilled the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office motto: “To Serve and Protect in Partnership with Our Community.”  

Jimmy Judge did a great deal to bring our community together, reduce homelessness, and address the needs of businesses and residents. The Downtown Dwellers is a nonprofit and nonpolitical. Collaboration with our police force is an organizational objective. We value the services our police render in ensuring our community is a safe, enjoyable place to live and work.

JSO Assistant Chief Jimmy Judge receives treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
JSO Assistant Chief Jimmy Judge receives treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

Recently, Jimmy became ill with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a disease that takes away a person’s freedom to walk, talk, and breathe. Although he receives the best available care at the local Mayo Clinic, he and a companion must also travel a long distance for special therapies at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Part of his therapy requires he use special exercise equipment at home. To give back to a man who we greatly appreciate and has given our organization so much, the Downtown Dwellers is raising funds to assist him with expenses medical insurance doesn’t cover.  For information on how to provide assistance to Jimmy and his family during this difficult time, please visit https://www.thedowntowndwellers.org/community-hero-jimmy-judge.

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