Newsmaker: Sheriff Jeff Wiley in the Spotlight
Sheriff Wiley is a graduate of East Ascension High School and has a B.S. Degree from Southeastern Louisiana University. He has completed numerous law enforcement schools, including the Louisiana State University Juvenile Justice Institute and FBI executive training at Quantico. He is married to Linda, and they have two children, Sara and Erin, and five grandchildren, Sophie, Abby, Scott, Audrey and Alex.
How did you become interested in a career in law enforcement?
Until my early 20s, I never dreamed of having this career. I wanted to be a teacher and a coach. That was my clear path. I played ball, and wanted to come back to Gonzales and teach physical education and coach. In college, though, I became interested in law enforcement through a stint in the military reserves. My assignment was with as a military policeman. I finished that assignment, though, and went back to college still clear on being a teacher. I was actually student teaching at Broadmoor High School. Then one day an old high school friend stopped by. He picked me up in a police car. There was something exciting about it. Being the good guy, or the caped crusader. I got a part-time job in the field, and loved the teamwork, and how organized and competitive it was. It was a lot like coaching and sports. That was when I knew this is what I wanted to do.
What do you enjoy most about your position, and what do you enjoy least?
I love helping people, and shaping the careers of people who share my philosophy of service first. We are, after all, here to serve the people of the parish. Least, I’d have to say I don’t like the sad nature of what we get exposed to. For example, the senseless and innocent deaths, the drugs, having to give families notifications, and the grief of people during trials is not something I enjoy but have to do. It’s hard to try and turn it all off when you finish the day.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
I have talent here in this office that other sheriff’s are envious of. I have a talented, intelligent staff that helps me get through my days. I go over the preceding and current days events first. I then meet with Jo Roux, and we go through my emails and phone calls. Together we work on all of the administrative things for the day. I also have to think about Donaldsonville, and make my way there a few times a week. There I work on the business side of things and ratify and acknowledge everything there. My signature or input may be needed. I check on the jail as well, and oversee the new training facility. This is all on top of what the famous Forrest Gump bumper sticker says.
Is there a specific achievement during your term in office you are most proud of?
All of my grandchildren have been born since I’ve been sheriff, so I’d like to think I have a little something to do with that. Seriously, though, I’d have to say watching the people I’ve hired blossom and turn in to gifted, dynamic leaders and servants.
What advice so you have for anyone wishing to follow a law enforcement career path?
I believe you have to have a higher calling to do this. Some people are smart enough and committed enough they just don’t get it. There’s a delicate balance when you have a gun, a badge, and arrest powers. You can either assert them or exploit them. People in law enforcement are different. Not elite or better, just different. We swear an oath of office to uphold and enforce. We also have to instill the service aspect.