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Sheriff T.K. Waters sets new agenda for JSO

Sheriff T.K. Waters with his leadership team.
Ray Troncoso
Sheriff T.K. Waters with his leadership team.

Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters debuted his new leadership team on Tuesday, while promising big changes to how the department manages crime — changes that stretch beyond the seven months left in his current term as sheriff.

At the same time, Waters dismissed allegations that the extensive shakeup at the top of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was a case of political retribution. The decisions were based on his professional opinion of fellow officers built over three decades with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, he said.

"I wanted to make sure that I had 1) years of experience, 2) people that I know their character, how they work, how they've excelled in our agency," Waters said. "I had to even demote some of friends, some of the people that I care a lot about, but you know, it's business. And we have to make sure that we put the very best and brightest in places to succeed."

Waters said he selected officers he felt were the best example of servant leaders, many of whom also have military experience.

Waters also proposed changes to the city's patrol zones, which have been in use by the department for 20 years.

Currently, JSO divides the city into six zones:

  • Zone 1 (Downtown / Springfield / Eastside).
  • Zone 2 (Arlington / Intracoastal West).
  • Zone 3 (Southside / Mandarin / San Marco).
  • Zone 4 (Riverside / Avondale / Ortega / Westside).
  • Zone 5 (Northwest / New Town / Baldwin).
  • Zone 6 (Northside / San Mateo / Oceanway).

"We're going to redeploy our patrol officers using current population maps, focusing on making our patrol areas of responsibility smaller for faster response times, and working closer with our community," he said.
Waters declined to give a timeline for when the changes would be put in place, saying making alterations to departmentwide functions was a complicated subject that would take time, well after his possible next election in four months.

"If I told you a date and I missed it, it'd look like I was lying to you so I'm not going to do that," Waters said. "We're working on it. We've been working on it for a little bit now, so we're focused on it and we're going to do it."

Waters won a special election earlier this month to fill the rest of the term vacated by Mike Williams, who resigned after secretly moving to Nassau County in violation of the city's charter. That term ends June 30, 2023.

Waters will be up for election again this March for a full term as sheriff. Any candidate who gets a majority of the vote March 21, or whoever wins a May 16 runoff election between the top two finishers of that first election, will be sworn in July 1 to a four-year term.

Reporter Raymon Troncoso joined WJCT News in June of 2021 after concluding his fellowship with Report For America, where he was embedded with Capitol News Illinois covering Illinois state government with a focus on policy and equity. You can reach him at (904) 358-6319 or and follow him on Twitter @RayTroncoso.