Duval County voters have a big decision coming up -- who will become the next sheriff?
That person will lead an agency of more than 3,000 employees with a $550 million budget. Action News Jax has highlighted each of the five candidates running for sheriff. You can watch the full interviews with each of them below.
Lakesha Burton is a 20-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. She started as an officer on the street and worked her way to Assistant Chief of Community Engagement and then most recently, as a zone commander.
When asked what the main priority would be, she would address it, Burton responded, “I believe that is the culture. I think that law enforcement has evolved over the years. And the fact that we have such a young agency, the Jacksonville sheriff’s office is very different than it was just five years ago. So again, you have younger, more innovative officers, and it’s this opportunity to cultivate a more well-rounded officer.”
Wayne Clark has 40 years of law enforcement experience, 30 of which was with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He started as a JSO correction officer and worked his way up to division chief. He left to become the Chief of Police for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority and then Chief for the Duval Public School Police.
When asked about the biggest issue he would address first as sheriff, Clark replied, “I think one of the biggest things we need to do is change the culture and climate of our officers to return back to community policing and understand that our job is to serve and to protect.” He added, “How can we find a way to work together to build what I call my five pillars of trust, accountability, accessibility, compassion and transparency as we go about providing professional law enforcement service to the citizens all over Jacksonville.”
Dr. Tony Cummings is a United States Army veteran. After retiring from the military, he spent 28 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He joined JSO as a patrol officer and then worked as a crisis intervention officer and field training officer. Dr. Cummings has a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership.
When asked what the biggest issue he would address as sheriff, Dr. Cummings replied, “I like to see some public oversight. I’m the only candidate in the race that support a public accountability office inside the sheriff’s office and also civilian review boards.” He added, “We don’t do a great job of messaging, our data collection is flawed in many ways, and how we derived many of our decisions, the public doesn’t know because they don’t have a seat at the table. Well, I want to correct those issues by giving them a seat at the table with that public accountability office.”
Ken Jefferson spent 24 years with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He started as a patrol officer and worked his way up to leadership roles like field training officer and recruiter. After retiring from JSO, Jefferson worked as a law and safety expert for the media. He has a Master’s Degree in Theology.
When asked what issue he would address first as sheriff, Jefferson replied, “The biggest issue that I’m hearing from the citizens of Jacksonville is transparency, lack of lack of transparency.” He added, “So my very first day in office, I intend to sign an M.O.U., memorandum of understanding, to partner with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement turning over to them every police-involved shooting as well as every in-custody death, have them investigate those, and report back to the agency. Then, also (I) will impanel a commission of civilians.
Waters has 31 years of law enforcement experience with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He started a corrections officer and worked his way up to Assistant Chief as a zone commander and then eventually, Chief of Investigations. Waters created JSO’s Violence Reduction section and built a community outreach program for at-risk youth.
When asked what the biggest issue he would address as sheriff, Waters replied, “We’ve had issues since I’ve been a police officer that we’ve all been working behind, working with fewer people. Instead of having enough or more than enough, we’ve always had too little, I think we need to change that. And I will work to change that because it’s necessary for us to provide the proper service to our community would be making sure we are fully staffed.”