New Leon County Sheriff Talks About Future of the Department

Posted at 7:20 PM, Jan 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-23 09:21:05-05

LEON CO., Fla. (WTXL) - Interim Leon County Sheriff Rob Swearingen has been on the job for less than a month, but he's already hitting the ground running, leading the more than 700 members of the agency.

He has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, most of those with the Leon County Sheriff's Office (LCSO).

His identical twin brother just got appointed the interim commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and his cousin is U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh.

Sheriff Swearingen was born in Massachusetts but grew up in Taylor County, where he began his law enforcement career in 1983.

When he came to LCSO in 1986, he started as a uniform patrol officer, progressed to a school resource deputy, then spent several years in the VICE narcotics unit. He worked through the ranks, becoming captain of homeland security, then major over the special services division, and as of Christmas Eve, was appointed by Governor Rick Scott as interim sheriff.

"So when I got the phone call I was taken aback because it was not a position I had applied for or even discussed," said Swearingen. "But I was quite honored and very honored to follow a sheriff with the legacy that Sheriff Campbell has and I look very forward to whatever time I have here and continuing to look after the agency and the community we serve."

Sheriff Swearingen says his plans are to keep the agency running as smoothly as possible. To him, that means not changing a whole lot. He says the biggest thing he plans to continue at LCSO during his tenure is a lot of what Sheriff Campbell has taught them, which is community involvement, both while at work and away from work. He says there are a number of charities they work closely with, a lot of community events they participate in, and he plans to keep it that way.

"It's so much easier to work and police the community when you're a part of the community, so I just plan to continue that and preach that to the young guys that you need to be involved in the community you live in," said Swearingen. "You shouldn't show up somewhere in our agency and be a stranger to them or what we stand for."

When asked if there was anything he'd like to change, he chuckled, and said the cowboy hats...something Sheriff Campbell was big on. Sheriff Swearingen said they may relax the standard just a bit on when and how often the green Stetson hats will have to be worn.

Sheriff Swearingen was hired under the leadership of Sheriff Larry Campbell, while Campbell was an under sheriff.

Swearingen says, while he knows he has large shoes to fill, his message to the community that he's now in charge of, is that the agency plans to continue with the same level of service they've always provided.

"We say here everyday, the agency will not stop with one missing individual. Although its hard to lose him, I would just like them (the community) to know that its going to be fine, the community is going to be fine, we are going to continue to be involved every single day."

Sheriff Swearingen says he would like to honor Sheriff Campbell by naming the second floor of the Citizens Academy after him, and placing his memorabilia throughout.

Video of full interview with Sheriff Swearingen now available.