Sheriff candidate: Mike Williams

Name: Mike Williams

Family: Jodi (wife), Zach (UNF graduate working in Jacksonville), Jacob (US Marine currently serving in Iraq) and Luke (High School Freshman)

Occupation: Currently serving as Sheriff of Duval County, Florida - elected in 2015.

Political/Government experience: Currently serving as Sheriff of Duval County, Florida - elected in 2015.

Years lived in Jacksonville: Born & raised in Jacksonville.

Campaign website: 

Why did you decide to run for office: My career path of being able to work through all levels of the agency - from my time as a beat patrolman, to SWAT Commander, to Chief and then to retire as Director - provided me with a lifetime of rewarding experiences. The opportunity to serve Jacksonville as Sheriff was the ideal next step because it has allowed me to give back to this community that has given me and my family so much, as well as lead the men and women of JSO into the future. I love this job and consider myself to be the most fortunate public servant anywhere. My community is wonderful, and together we are deeply committed to the success of the Jacksonville Sheriff s Office. The public officials I work with are passionate about reducing crime and support my efforts to do that with our strategic vision, steadfast rigor, and a determination to succeed. The men and women that I am privileged to lead - they make the job a true calling for me. I am working every day to solidify the confidence the community has shown in me and earn their continued support.

What do you believe is the best specific approach for combating violent crime in Jacksonville: The men and women of JSO are showing that we can find the criminals and arrest them when they commit crimes, but that is simply addressing the symptoms, not the root cause. I will continue into my next term to charge our officers to deliver more of what has been working: • We will focus on the gang, drug and violent criminals in those areas of town hit hardest by their very presence. We know these folks are a small part of our population, but the large part of the problem; • We will carry out a targeted campaign to get illegal guns off our streets; • And we will continue to strengthen our partnerships with every neighbor in every neighborhood. And the key ingredients to this effort will be the community and the tools. Intervening in potentially violent situations with active community partners is proving to be effective. The vast number of tips that come in every day, is the proof that our citizens are in this fight with us. Our expanded technological tools of ShotSpotter, NIBIN, and the upcoming Real Time Crime Center will continue to deliver the focused intelligence that will equip our officers to be where the violence is happening. As recent weeks have showed us, we will have bad days, but we cannot let that derail us. We know what works and we must stay focused on that. And measure our progress in lives saved.

What is your message to the citizens of Jacksonville who believe there is a crime problem: While the citizens of Jacksonville I talk to have shared with me that they feel safe in their own neighborhoods, they also understand that there is a criminal element within our city that has been driving violent crime with activities primarily related to street culture drug-trade. This relatively small portion of our population operates within a violent cycle of victimizing itself over and over again. This is a community concern and one that will take a community solution. I applaud the organizations that have joined JSO in this shared effort to end the violence. All of this provides a sense of cautious optimism. We have to maintain focus on the work and the progress by managing expectations. Jacksonville as a city is in an advantageous position because of the cooperative and intentional partnerships forged amongst city leadership. I cannot say enough about the support and commitment the Mayor and City Council have demonstrated to JSO and to public safety both through investment in necessary resources such as more officers as well as better crime fighting tools. Other key stakeholders such as the State Attorney and Public Defender work with JSO in efforts of diversion and intervention. Prevention programs like PAL, KHA and Boys & Girls Club and others work. They are an investment in the future of our city. They are helping to keep kids off the street corners so they never meet a gang member, never meet a drug dealer and never take that path.

What would be your main budget priority for the upcoming fiscal year: While those conversations are just getting started with my executive staff, we are aimed at finishing up a number of projects that have been in the launch phase for some time. The additional 160 officers will have all completed their training and will be out on the streets, utilizing the new technologies we have been implementing (Body Cameras, ShotSpotter, NIBIN and the Real Time Crime Center). The fiscal focus will be on supporting those resources - keeping them and expanding them when the results show the investment is worthwhile for the taxpayers.

How do you define what you hope Jacksonville will be ten years from now: Everything that we have been working towards within our partnerships, with our new technologies, and most importantly, our new force is for the future. The fact that I have hired over 700 officers in that past four years, signals that the next generation has arrived. The foundation of excellence that I am leading is intentionally designed to meet the needs of the changing culture within JSO. My commitment is to position the new JSO to be the most diverse, innovative, and capable agency in our city's history and in the country. The efforts made within my administration are anchored to endure beyond one Sheriff, beyond one Mayor and beyond one City Council. It will take an actively engaged community to demand that the city leaders stay on path towards the goal of a crime-free city, driven by everlasting partnerships with empowered citizens fostering a vibrant community and the success of all individuals.

EDITOR’S NOTE: WOKV asked all candidates in a race to answer the same questions, and the answers here are their unedited responses. WOKV has not independently verified information in these answers, nor is WOKV endorsing any candidates.

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