Jacksonville FL Nov 14 2016 He’s been in uniform on the streets of the City of Jacksonville for nearly six decades.
Public Services Officer Lt. James “XY” Brown has served since 1958 and celebrated a birthday recently — but don’t ask him which one.
It’s “nobody’s business,” he told The Daily News. But he did say he plans to continue serving in the community as long as he’s allowed to work.
It’s been nearly a year since Brown made the transition from certified police officer to non-sworn police services officer, according to the Center for Public Safety Media Liaison Beth Purcell. Many in the Jacksonville community said they believe Brown is the oldest still-serving police officer in the state, but it’s a stat that nobody — from local agencies to statewide law enforcement organizations — can confirm.
Especially if Brown won’t reveal his age.
But his length of service aligns with a breadth of service.
Serving in various behind-the-scenes ways, Brown works in traffic control, as a crossing guard, provides funeral escorts and conducts residential security checks, Purcell said. He also receives and delivers court documents and helps at special events like parades and road races.
A normal day for Brown includes helping children cross the road and stopping traffic for buses at numerous schools within the city.
“He is truly devoted to the students at this school,” said Northwoods Elementary School Assistant Principal Lisa Marshall.
He has such a big heart, she said, and during his birthday celebration he learned that a first grade boy at the school shared his birthday. Brown went to his car and returned with a large Transformer toy, almost as big as the student’s backpack, she said.
Standing outside Bell Fork Elementary discussing the gift, Brown smiled and pointed to his backseat.
Inside was a cardboard box overflowing with Transformers and stuffed animals.
Brown said he buys the toys with his own money — cars, dogs, stuffed teddy bears — and randomly hands them out to children at the schools. Boys and girls, birthdays or regular school days, Brown said he just loves giving them to the students.
“They know that he is there for them,” Marshall said, adding that Brown is a role model to the students. He is also who they picture when they think of law enforcement.
Diane Joyner, a custodian at Northwoods, said Brown is the students’ guardian angel. She’s seen him walk right into traffic to stop vehicles, putting his life on the line, she said, to protect children during the more than 20 years she’s known him.
“He’s a caring, fair man,” she said. “Those kids come first with XY.”
Brown takes the time to speak with students and their parents, said Director of Public Safety Chief Mike Yaniero. Over the years it’s created a very positive interaction.
“This is truly what community policing is all about, engaging with our community,” Yaniero said.
His face is so recognizable around town that his birthday post on the Onslow County Schools Facebook page received more than 2,600 reactions, 1,365 shares and 350 comments.
He is virtually the face of JPD.
“None of us have ever experienced a Jacksonville Police Department without him,” police department Traffic Division Supervisor Lt. Sean Magill said.
It’s a lot of years to put into words, and Brown is a man of few. When asked why he’s worked for the citizens for so long, he had just three words: “I love it,” he said, and smiled.