Alachua County sheriff clarifies FDLE investigation 

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Emery Gainey (left) to take over as the new Alachua County Sheriff for departing Clovis Watson Jr. (right) starting Oct. 2.
Alachua County Sheriff Emery Gainey (left) distanced himself from a state investigation involving his predecessor, Clovis Watson Jr. (right), following an email sent on June 7.

In an email sent to Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) staff on Friday, Alachua County Sheriff Emery Gainey distanced himself from a state investigation and said it involves his predecessor’s administration.  

ACSO spokesperson Art Forgey released Gainey’s email on Wednesday. It came in response to Executive Order 24-105, which Gov. Ron DeSantis issued on June 4. 

The order stated that State Attorney Brian Kramer had voluntarily disqualified himself from a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into the ACSO, citing Kramer’s endorsement of Gainey’s reelection bid as a conflict of interest.  

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

Kramer requested that Third Judicial Circuit Court State Attorney John Durrett take over as the assigned state attorney to continue the investigation, which started in February 2023 and involves Gainey’s predecessor, former Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.   

“Earlier this afternoon, it was reported that the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office was under investigation by the State’s Attorney and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement,” Gainey wrote in the email to staff. “It was further reported that the investigation was transferred to the 3rd Judicial Circuit. The stories left out some important context thus leaving readers to question if this was a new investigation.”  

Gainey wrote that he did not know about the investigation until the state and the governor’s office informed him on Friday. He did not disclose the focus of the investigation.  

“My administration is NOT under investigation by any sources,” Gainey wrote to staff.  

Watson faced criticism over the last two years in office for how he handled an internal affairs investigation against three Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (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. 

In June 2023, Watson announced that he would not seek re-election in 2024. On July 31, 2023, Watson sent DeSantis a letter saying he would step down from his position due to health reasons.   

On Sept. 7, 2023, DeSantis appointed Gainey as the new Alachua County sheriff, and Gainey was sworn into office on Oct. 1. 

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that Gainey said he was not aware of the investigation until Friday.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

It is obvious Watson was a better Sheriff. Look at the pictures. Watson has five stars. Gainey only has four. Bigger ego = better Sheriff. Clovie Rules.


? drop a word?

“Gainey wrote that he did know about the investigation until the state and the governor’s office informed him on Friday.”

“…he did know…until…” ?

J.C. Derrick

Apologies for the typo. It’s been corrected.


An investigation is an investigation. It does not prove that something was actually wrong until the finally analysis or completion of that investigation indicate that’s something was or were illegally done.