Sheriff-elect T.K. Waters says department must ‘get closer to our community’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sheriff-elect T.K. Waters will take the oath of office Sunday, becoming the third person to hold the position in Duval County in just five months.

Waters won a special election to the position earlier this month. Interim-Sheriff Pat Ivey on Thursday announced his plans to retire from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at the the end of the week. He was appointed after Mike Williams stepped down, retiring last June.

Before these three, John Rutherford, Nat Glover and Jim McMillian were the three previous sheriffs to have served Jacksonville. That was between 1986 and 2015 — nearly three decades.

Waters, a Republican, said he’s ready to get started after a compressed summertime election cycle that led to a runoff against Democrat Lakesha Burton.

“I’m very excited. I appreciate the mandate from the voters. It’s amazing,” Waters said. “Overwhelmingly, they they chose me in the primary and then a general. So I have a mandate from them to go forward and do the very best that we can.”

For an interview on This Week in Jacksonville (coming up Sunday at 9 a.m. on News4JAX and streaming on News4JAX+), News4JAX Insiders sent us dozens of questions to ask the incoming sheriff.

Waters said he has a plan to address the continuing violent crime. He said he will start by realigning patrol zones.

“We have to focus heavily on how we’re patrolling our streets,” Waters tells me. “We have to realign our zones. We haven’t done that in very — in many, many years.”

Waters told me the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has to consider the population of Duval and place units in places that make sense logistically. He also acknowledges the department must do more to improve its outreach in the community.

“We have to get closer to our community, work in smaller sections of town ... because in my 10 years in homicide that I spent there, I knew that we can’t solve crimes without our community support and help,” Waters adds. “So we have to grow closer to our community. By doing that, getting closer, working in smaller sections, we can get more accomplished that way.”

Many viewers wanted to know how Waters feels about the issue of drugs in Jacksonville neighborhoods — and I asked if he felt it’s a problem in different areas.

“Yeah, there is. There has been for awhile,” Waters said. “And the only way to address it is ways that I just said ... to be in our neighborhoods, patrol our neighborhoods stronger, and then utilize our undercover assets to make sure that we can make those purchases from those individuals that are doing that. That’s part of the process.”

Waters also has a plan for how to address staffing shortages.

You can watch the full interviews with all of our guests on This Week in Jacksonville at 9 a.m. Sunday on Channel 4, at noon Sunday on CW17 and streaming on News4JAX+.

About the Author:

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.