Top Florida wildlife officer takes over at Highway Safety

Jones, right, prepares to pose for a photo with Cabinet members today.

Col. Julie Jones says there will continue to be a strong public safety “hook” as she leaves the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as its top law enforcement officer to take over as head of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The governor and Cabinet voted unanimously today to appoint Jones to lead Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, which includes the Florida Highway Patrol. She has been director of law enforcement at the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission since 2002 and had worked at the agency for 30 years beginning in the 1970s in a temporary position.

“I think the things I’ve been able to do at Fish and Wildlife — continuing to move forward and create a vision — I’ll be able to do that at Highway Safety,” she said. “The troopers are very interested, I think, about someone coming in with a little different perspective.”

Jones’ capability and leadership are well known within state government, Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said.

“I just wanted to commend Julie for the outstanding service she has already given to the state of Florida,” Bronson said.

Jones said being one of the first environmental investigators in the 1980s was a highlight of her job along with helping lead the merger of law enforcement units from the former Florida Marine Patrol and the former Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission.

Her law enforcement division also has had bitter disagreements in the past with some commercial net fishing supporters since a state Constitution amendment was adopted in 1994 restricting the use of gill nets in nearshore Florida waters.

“That was a highlight in that it was a difficult problem (that was) overcome with a lot of stakeholders,” Jones told “Yes there are still some folks not happy. There are always going to be some folks not totally happy.”

(Photo and story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission).