Sergeant fired for criticizing Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr., lawsuit filed

Praise from coworkers didn't save the job of an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office sergeant who insulted the sheriff
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:17 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Praise from coworkers up and down the chain of command didn’t save the job of an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office sergeant who insulted the sheriff on Facebook.

Sgt. William “Frank” Williams has filed a lawsuit after an Administrative Investigation found he had violated the sheriff’s office’s social media policy. Williams claims his rights under the state’s Officer’s Bill of Rights were violated during the investigation and he is asking the court to grant a Compliance Review Hearing.

RELATED: Captain files lawsuit against Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson, others follow

Williams is a 13-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. In 2013, he was shot in the line of duty and returned to work less than three months later. He has been the leader of a patrol squad unit commonly referred to as Team 1, Night Shift assigned to District 2.

The internal affairs investigation was launched after Williams posted a response on his Facebook account to the sheriff’s office’s reorganization announcement on Jan. 12. Watson announced 42 employees’ positions would change, a type of shakeup Williams felt was occurring too often.

“If continuity of operations, safety, efficiency, efficacy, and overall success of the mission were the goal, does it make sense to shake all of the puzzle pieces every time you reach a certain level of completion?” posted Williams on Facebook.

The post continued by explaining his disappointment in Watson’s administration which he compared to a “domestic violence relationship.” He also stated that he expected to be transferred or disciplined due to the post which contained profanity.

During the internal affairs investigation, the lieutenant in charge of Williams was interviewed along with two sergeants, and five deputies. They described him as “a very hard worker”, “professional”, “an asset to the agency”, and a “great supervisor.”

Lt. David Butscher explained that he believed Williams was “frustrated” due to the “minimal staffing.” The sheriff’s office was just “one bad call away” from not having enough deputies to answer calls across the county.

RELATED: Discrimination lawsuit filed against Alachua County Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.

The inspector concluded Williams had violated the sheriff’s office social media policy. He found the post “undermines the public respect and detracts from the mission of ACSO.”

On March 7, Watson sustained findings that Williams had been insubordinate and engaged in conduct unbecoming of an employee. He then approved Williams’ termination.

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