So far, only one candidate has filed paperwork to challenge incumbent Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel — a Broward County politics outsider named Edison Jules, prompting pretty much the entire courthouse crowd to scratch their heads.
After Jules filed paperwork earlier this year, reporters and bloggers found him hard to pin down. He had little online presence. His résumé suggested he had worked at small town agencies in Ohio, but calls around the Buckeye state to police departments yielded only people who said he’d never worked there. Calls to Jules’ phone from New Times went unreturned.
Until now. Edison “Eddie” Jules sat down recently for an exclusive interview.
“Everyone says Edison Jules is a ‘mystery man,’?” he told us in Caribbean-tinged English. “But I think the ‘mystery man’ can eliminate the issues that the deputies are facing inside the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.”
During an hour on a Starbucks patio, the candidate wouldn’t say which community leaders have his back, how fundraising is going, or even the circumstances of this wrongful-termination lawsuit with the force he worked for — the Obetz Police Department in Ohio. (Records indicate that Jules worked there between 2007 and 2010. After losing his job with the agency, he filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and a hostile work environment.)
But the Haiti-born Jules did say that he’s been living in Broward for two years and that his interest in law enforcement came from conversations with “leaders in the community.”
“I don’t want to mention any names, but a lot of them are religious leaders and past leaders from the Broward Sheriff’s Office,” he says. “I don’t have any ties in this community to where I would bring my own crew with me, just like others do. I don’t have a clique; I’m not part of the status quo. But I’m known to be fair and just.”
Jules says Israel’s administration has been bogged down with ethics issues and conflicts of interest involving campaign contributors.
“Edison Jules does not have any millionaires or billionaires that will pay my way,” he explains. “My support is the people.”
As long shot as his campaign may be, Jules does make some solid points about current law enforcement trends. The candidate pointed to the recent shooting of Corey Jones by an undercover Palm Beach Gardens Police officer. Jules say the incident is evidence of an overreliance on undercover officers that can escalate situations a uniformed presence would subdue.
“Under the Edison Jules leadership, you will see a lot of uniformed police patrolling the streets,” he says. “My job as sheriff is not to fight crime; it’s to deter crime from happening. I can chase the bad guys after the crime. But as long as I have a very strong presence, it’ll stop crime from happening.”
Jules also says that his 15 years in small police departments is a plus, not a minus. He learned all aspects of law enforcement in the smaller setting, he says. “When I get elected sheriff, I’ll be able to manage every aspect of that office because I’ve done them all.”
The candidate also says a more formal campaign rollout will be coming in the next months, with fundraisers, media kits, and the usual election-season tub-thumping. Already, he’s gathered support from one interesting BSO figure: Gary Karp, father of Marissa Karp, a 17-year-old Broward girl whose 2002 murder remains unsolved. Following his daughter’s death, Karp became close with BSO officers and did a stint on the BSO Crime Stoppers board. Karp, however, says he’s been disappointed with Israel’s tenure.
“The deputies aren’t happy,” Karp says. “I think that it’s a good thing that people don’t know [Jules], because it gives us an opportunity to get to know him.”