Florida Grand Jury Blasts Former Duval County Public School Director for Underreporting Crimes

August 27, 2022 Criminal Defense, Juvenile Offenses, News & Announcements

New reports released from the state’s grand jury have accused former police director Michael Edwards of manipulating and underreporting crimes on school grounds. Although the grand jury agreed that criminal misconduct took place within the department, a “legal quirk” has prevented them from charging Edwards with two felonies and one misdemeanor.

The Office of Statewide Prosecution published a final report stating that Edwards has, “essentially been offered a diversion disposition in lieu of formal prosecution.”

However, the grand jury criticized Edwards for the elaborate steps he took over the years, resulting in a complete disregard for student safety. In one instance during a high school football game, Edwards ordered officers to release an unidentified student who was involved in a fight. Instead of making the student leave, he was allowed to stay on school grounds. Later that night, the same student was shot and killed at the end of the game after the continued altercation from the prior fight.

We will provide information on the underreported criminal instances, along with responses to Edwards’ actions.

What was the Incident?

Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) Police Director Michael Edwards resigned from his position in January of 2021 after a report was released accusing him of underreporting crimes within the school district.

The grand jury accused the police department and the district’s administration of reducing crime statistics by allowing “administrators without any legal training” to decide whether or not a crime is just a “petty act of misconduct.”

A report was conducted to review the police department’s acts over the course of four years. Within the report, investigators found that Edwards had told officers, “even if they personally observed the crime or if it was captured on video or seen by others” to not proceed with a report if the victim did not ask to proceed.

The grand jury reported that Edwards’ employees considered his policies to be “distasteful,” but they were fearful of retaliation if they spoke out against him or didn’t follow his rules. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement completed an examination of Edwards’ incident reports to review exactly how the information was manipulated.

Issues with the Incident Reports

After the issue was brought up with the grand jury report, an investigation was completed to look into the 2018 SESIR reports. The investigators looked through over 2,600 incident reports from the school district.

The jury found that 520 out of the 2,600 cases should have been labeled “offense” reports and had been filed with the state law enforcement. Between 2016 and 2019, the following offenses were uncovered due to the investigation:  

  • 150 cases of Battery on a School Employee
  • 94 cases of Child Abuse
  • 157 cases of Lewd and Lascivious Acts
  • 21cases of Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer
  • 23 cases of Child Pornography
  • 13 cases of Aggravated Assault
  • 29 cases of Burglary
  • 6 cases of Robbery
  • 13 cases of Bomb Threats
  • 4 cases of Arson
  • 8 cases of Gang-related Activity


David Barksdale is the attorney representing Edwards, and he gave the following statement to News4JAX:

“Mr. Edwards has devoted 36 years of his life to protecting and serving the citizens of Duval County. All who have worked with Mr. Edwards would say that he was conscientious, courageous, hardworking, and willing to give his all to improve the work environment. His resounding goal as a leader has been to ensure that all citizens, faculty members, students, and employees of the Duval County School Police Department were treated the way he would have liked to have been treated as a person.”

The full statement from DCPS is as follows:

“As we promised the community when the first grand jury report was released—and as was recommended in the most recent grand jury report—the school district did initiate and conduct a joint review of our current processes for SESIR reporting with state officials. We worked directly with the Florida Department of Education Office of Safe Schools on this review. Because of this collaboration with the state, we are confident that our current procedures are legally sound.

The new grand jury report correctly states that we self-reported to the state when we discovered the errors in our 2018 SESIR reporting data. It should be clear to families and the community that we:

  • Self-reported the errors.
  • Corrected both the errors and our procedures.
  • Requested that the FLDOE Office of Safe Schools review our policies and procedures to ensure compliance with state law. That joint review was conducted earlier this year.

Mr. Edwards resigned in 2021. We will continue to cooperate with the grand jury and other participants in any further, potential judicial action to provide any evidence which may address the claims made against Mr. Edwards in the report.”

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, don’t hesitate. You should immediately seek out the legal advice of a skilled defense attorney in your area. A criminal conviction can lead to expensive fines, potential imprisonment, and the stigma of carrying a criminal record. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across the state of Florida for various criminal charges. We vow to stand by your side throughout the entire legal process. For a free consultation call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message today.

Written by Karissa Key

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