Mike Williams: In his own words and his career of service

For seven years, Mike Williams served as Jacksonville’s sheriff.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For seven years – Mike Williams served as Jacksonville’s Sheriff. He’s been with the department for 31 years.

Let’s step away from the controversy over where the Sheriff lives – and what that has to do with his retirement.

But instead, look back to what he’s said during some of the biggest moments in his term.

It started with a close race in 2015. Mike Williams went up against 6 other candidates – and won. He took his oath in July.

In 2017 - the sheriff told News4Jax the department could begin using body cameras. Later that same year, in August 2017 – the sheriff called for 100 new officers. “We’re looking at many different types of training, diversity training, implicit biased training,” Sheriff Williams said.

In 2018 – there was a mass shooting at the Jacksonville landing. Three people died and 9 people were hurt.

In September the sheriff told News4Jax he was just as concerned about violent crime as any other Jacksonville citizen, “Clearly we’ve got issues.”

In 2019 - JSO anticipated around 200 body cameras in the first quarter of the year.

Then in 2020 – the murder of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery led to a social justice movement around the world and in Jacksonville.

It sparked calls for transparency by JSO to release the body camera footage in the local police shootings of Kwame Jones, Jamee Johnson, and Reginald Boston.

Most of the protests were peaceful. Later that year we heard calls for a citizen review board and the cities Safer Together Committee – that would later end.

Northside Coalition President Ben Frazier said that’s the one thing the sheriff did right in his term. “I think that he had good intentions,” Frazier said.

But now the sheriff’s term ends amid controversy. “This sheriff has been absent, missing and unaccounted for the past year and a half,” Frazier continued. “I think that in that one regard, his resignation, he is leading by example. Because we need somebody who can run this city the way it should be with regards to public safety.”

The sheriff plans to retire and officially leave the office in less than a week, June 10.

The Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement “Sheriff Williams has maintained the trust and respect of our members during his time in office. His career of service to our community spanned over 30 years and was exemplary.”

Ben Frazier says no person – not even the sheriff is above the law.

According to the city’s charter: “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.”

There are still lots of questions as to what happens next. But the first step will be Monday, when the city council meets to set a special election.

About the Author:

A Florida-born, Emmy Award winning journalist and proud NC A&T SU grad