Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. announced his last day in office will be on Oct. 1.
Watson sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday declaring that he would step down from his elected term early due to health reasons.
In the letter, Watson said, “After much soul-searching and with a great sense of sadness, I am announcing my retirement from my position as Sheriff of Alachua County effective Oct. 1, 2023. Earlier this year when I announced that I would not be seeking re-election, it was my intention to complete my term in office, but due to my personal healthy I now feel it would be better to go ahead and retire at this time.
“After more than forty years in law enforcement and public service, this decision has been very difficult, but I have accepted that my health is such that I fear that I may not be able to meet my own expectations for performing my sworn duties.”
Watson added that whoever is appointed to complete his term would be, “supported by a workforce comprised of support staff and deputy sheriffs who are committed to keeping our entire community safe.”
The letter concluded with Watson saying that he would use his remaining time in office to help the ACSO prepare for a smooth transition to new leadership.
On June 21, Watson announced he would not seek re-election in 2024.
Watson has faced criticism over the last two years for how he handled an internal affairs investigation against three ACSO employees and in his negotiations with the North Central Florida Police Benevolent Association over a contract with ACSO deputies, which was finally approved in July 2022.
Watson defeated Sadie Darnell, who had served as Alachua County Sheriff for 14 years, in an August 2020 primary election. He captured 59% of the vote and ran unopposed in the November 2020 general election.
Prior to being elected sheriff, Watson serve as a Democratic state representative from 2012 to 2020 for the 20th District. He previously worked in the law enforcement field for the city of Alachua and Santa Fe College and also served as the Alachua city manager.