Jacksonville has a new sheriff who says he is and always has been a Duval County resident.
But the reason why there's a new sheriff in town is because the last one moved out of Duval County 14 months ago, thus violating a residency requirement for elected officials in the Jacksonville charter.
So as former Undersheriff Pat Ivey takes over as sheriff following his appointment by Gov. Ron DeSantis, some might wonder if there is a residency requirement for the rest of the department. And what about the sheriffs and deputies in surrounding counties?
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Former Sheriff Mike Williams moved to Nassau County over a year ago, a fact that only came to light a few weeks ago. That news put a spotlight on part of the Jacksonville city charter that says if “the sheriff should die, resign or remove his residence from Duval County during his term of office, or be removed from office, the office of sheriff shall become vacant.”
Williams, a second-term Republican, was closing in on his last year in office and six candidates had registered for the election to replace him.
Residencies for Northeast Florida law enforcement
Jacksonville and Charlotte County are the only two counties in Florida with sheriff's residency restrictions, according to a Times-Union review of each city's charter.
In Duval County when someone files for office, part of the candidate oath says "he or she is a candidate for the office of (fill in the title); that he or she is a qualified elector of (that) county." But residency mandates do not exist for non-elected law enforcement, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.
So as of June 1, there are 965 officers, 101 sergeants, 38 lieutenants and 21 other appointed staff in the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. And as of that date, 529 officers live out of Duval County, 91 sergeants, 33 lieutenants and 13 appointed staff, the Sheriff's Office said.
The department also has a take-home car policy, meaning officers drive patrol cars when off duty, called “force multipliers” since they can help handle issues when not on call. That means those 529 officers who live outside Duval, plus supervisors, can also park their patrol cars in Nassau, St. Johns or Clay county driveways when off duty.
In Clay County, there is no residency requirement for the sheriff or senior uniformed staff. As for the sworn law enforcement officers in Sheriff Michelle Cook's department, its human resources office said there are 655 total: 292 deputies, sergeants and lieutenants, plus 114 certified corrections officers.
There is no specific county rule for out-of-county residency for sworn officers, so 61 of them do outside Clay, the office said. The department also has a take-home car policy.
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In Nassau County, 58 of its 211 sworn officers live outside its borders since that Sheriff's Office said it has no residency requirement for deputies. There is also no requirement for senior uniformed staff or the sheriff, but all administrative staff members (captain and higher) live in Nassau County.
Sheriff Bill Leeper "was born and raised in Nassau County, currently lives in Nassau County and never plans to leave Nassau County," his department stated.
Employees are assigned a marked or unmarked take-home vehicle. They may also drive them home if they live outside the county, as long as it is in Duval and Baker counties in Florida or Camden andCharlton counties in Georgia.
And in St. Johns County, there is no residency requirement for sheriff or sworn officers. So 175 of its 517 law enforcement and corrections officers live outside the county, the department said. The take-home car policy allows them to be driven only home to counties that touch St. Johns.
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This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: What are residency rules for sheriff in Jacksonville-area counties?