Watson ends investigations after court ruling

Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.
Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.
Photo courtesy ACSO

Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. has decided to halt internal investigations into three deputies following a ruling by a local judge last week. 

Watson directed the office’s chief investigator on Wednesday to void the investigations and rescind any imposed discipline. With the investigations dropped, Judge Donna Keim’s ruling becomes moot as well.  

Following Keim’s May 24 ruling, Watson decided to personally review the separate investigations into the three deputies, according to a sheriff’s office press release on Friday. 

Get The Latest News

Don't miss our top stories every weekday in your inbox.

In Article Newsletter Form

In that release, Watson stated his reasons for looking into the cases: “if we were not one hundred percent correct in the manner in which the members of our agency conducted this investigation, then we must remedy the issue above and beyond the order imposed by Judge Keim.” 

After reading the investigation reports, Watson concluded that mistakes were made in each case and decided that voiding the investigations was the only solution. 

Watson and all three deputies have signed settlement agreements that allow the employees to return to work at the same pay, rank and shift as before. The agreements are contingent on the deputies receiving backpay not collected because of the investigations.    

“I remain committed to the men and women of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and it is my belief that the only fair and equitable way to ensure that Captain Butscher, Sgt. Williams and Sgt. Davis were provided with the rights that they so justly deserve, was to rescind any punitive discipline that took place as a result of investigations that I do not believe were completed in a manner that was free from mistakes,” Watson said in the release. 

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) had opened investigations against Capt. Rebecca Butscher, Sgt. Kevin Davis and Sgt. William Williams. However, the sheriff’s office refused to conduct Compliance Review Hearings as required by Florida Statues under the “Officer’s Bill of Rights” and requested by the three deputies. 

The deputies hired attorney Bobi Frank and sued Watson for a violation of rights.  

After a hearing, Keim sided against Watson and ordered the ACSO to conduct the review hearings within 10 days. 

Compliance Review Hearings consist of a panel with three law enforcement officers: one picked by the sheriff, one picked by the deputy and one mutually agreed upon. These hearings determine whether or not the law enforcement agency intentionally violated the officer’s rights during an investigation. The hearings do not delve into the actual charges of the investigation.  

The ACSO press release noted that the deputies may have still faced discipline following a review hearing—even if rights were violated along the way. Through the settlements, all discipline is removed and the parties agree to no retaliation. 

ACSO spokesman Art Forgey said investigators have received additional training on the requirements of state statutes. He said he doesn’t think it will be a problem again.  

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jeff Gehmann

At least he did the right thing now. Maybe fairness will prevail in our Sheriff’s office!


General of the Army Watson?

Pete's Gym :)

I respect the Sheriff's ultimate decision, but he failed to take action until suit was brought.
(I know Clovis's job demands that he juggle cats 24/7, but he likely regrets not having found time to scrutinize the deputies' complaints before they went further.)
It appears the slap-dash approach by OPS should have nudged the Sheriff's spidey-sense and inspired his devoted involvement long before it landed in a courtroom (and in the news).
As always, thanks for the good reporting, Seth.

Last edited 3 months ago by Pete's Gym :)