T.K. Waters says he plans to soon retire from Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

Current chief of investigations says he will be a candidate in special election for sheriff

File photo: T.K. Waters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a statement obtained Friday by News4JAX, T.K. Waters, chief of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, said he plans to retire from JSO in the coming weeks.

Waters has previously announced his plans to run for sheriff of Jacksonville. Recently, current Sheriff Mike Williams suddenly announced his retirement as sheriff amid controversy over his residency, specifically a recent move from Duval to Nassau County.

Waters’ statement reads: “I intend to retire from JSO in the coming weeks after transitioning my responsibilities as chief of investigations and I will be a candidate in the special election for sheriff.”

Williams’ retirement takes effect June 10. The special election is expected to be set for August and November.

We’re still waiting to learn who the governor will appoint as the interim sheriff.

In regard to Williams’ residency controversy, the city’s charter states: “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.”

However, Williams has said state law does not require a sheriff to live in a county where they serve and said he believed state law would overrule the city charter in this case. The city’s general counsel disagreed, according to a draft opinion.

Waters, a Republican candidate for sheriff, has raised the most funds in the race -- approximately $1.1 million, records from the Supervisor of Elections Office show. Democrat Lakesha Burton is not far behind.

RELATED: ‘A major curveball’: With Williams announcing retirement, challenges emerge in race for Jacksonville sheriff

Williams had about a year left on his second term, and that’s an example of the continuity in the Sheriff’s Office over the past several decades.

“So, 54 years, five sheriffs, we’ve had remarkable stability, and in my opinion, some very good sheriffs for the last half century,” said political analyst Rick Mullaney. “This is the most disruptive, really, ever for consolidated government.”

Those five sheriffs include:

  • Dale Carson from 1958 until 1986 — actually re-elected seven times by voters.
  • Jim McMillan served after Carson retired, until 1995.
  • Nat Glover took over for two terms until 2003.
  • John Rutherford served three terms (2003-2015).
  • Mike Williams was elected (2015-present).

The six candidates for sheriff now have to accelerate their timelines for a special election — not the scheduled general election next March.

Mullaney called it noteworthy, and also pointed to the pressure it puts on many parties involved, now reacting to a vacancy atop law enforcement for such a large county.

“Having said that, typically what happens, you get your leadership team in place, they understand how that works. It shouldn’t really jeopardize public safety, but it is disruptive to leadership and management, the current circumstance we’re in,” Mullaney said. “And over the next 12 months, you’re gonna see a lot of change in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.”

About the Authors:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.