A look at how Florida governors handled sheriff appointments in the recent past

News4JAX found there’s no real pattern to look at to know when Jacksonville will learn who its next sheriff will be

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams on Thursday announced that he will retire, following the revelation that he moved from Duval County to Nassau County, triggering controversy over his residency.

As we wait to hear who Gov. Ron DeSantis will appoint as interim sheriff, we looked back at how Florida governors have handled sheriff appointments in the recent past.

We looked back at DeSantis’ time in office so far and former Gov. Rick Scott’s, and we found the length of time it took for them to appoint interim sheriffs in the event of a vacancy varied, with no real pattern that we can look at to know when we’ll learn who the next sheriff of Jacksonville will be.

In August 2020, former Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels was removed from office after his arrest in connection with a sex scandal in which he was accused of ordering deputies to arrest his mistress. It took DeSantis one day to appoint Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Matt Walsh to serve as Clay County’s interim sheriff, the governor choosing not to promote a department head within the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

In January 2019, there was another instance when the governor chose an interim sheriff outside of a law enforcement agency that needed new leadership with the appointment of Gregory Tony as Broward County sheriff. Tony was a former sergeant with the Coral Springs Police Department. He took over for Sheriff Scott Israel, who the governor suspended over his response to the 2018 Parkland school shooting. Israel was formally removed from office months later by the Florida Senate.

In September 2018, Scott appointed Carmine Marceno as Lee County sheriff 13 days after Sheriff Mike Scott cited family obligations for his abrupt resignation.

And in November 2017, Scott appointed Jefferson County Sheriff Alfred McNeill Jr. three days after the death of Sheriff David Hobbs.

News4JAX political analyst Rick Mullaney expects the governor to appoint a new sheriff before Williams’ scheduled retirement next week. He also anticipates that following Williams’ residency requirement controversy, the governor will appoint a local law enforcement leader.

“I do expect the governor to act reasonably promptly,” Mullaney said. “I do expect that it will be somebody in Duval County, and certainly somebody with law enforcement experience, likely somebody within the department, but the governor’s not limited to that.”

In a statement from Williams, he said he will be retiring on June 10.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.