Union criticizes Alachua County Sheriff Watson over employee lawsuits
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The union representing Alachua County Sheriff’s deputies is responding to Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr.’s decision to rescind disciplinary action on three employees.
In a statement, Joseph G. Branaman, the president of the North Central Florida Chapter of the PBA, says legal battles have become too frequent under the Watson administration. The union doesn’t believe anything will change during the remainder of his time in office.
The letter also states longtime employees are being treated like second-class citizens by the administration.
In May, a judge ordered Watson to hold Compliance Review Hearings for three employees after they filed lawsuits claiming Adminstrative Investigations into their conduct violated Florida’s Officer’s Bill of Rights.
Instead, Watson voided the investigations after losing the lawsuits.
“I am pleased that Sheriff Watson has finally decided to rescind a punitive discipline order that was
imposed on our members. It is very unfortunate that, once again, a matter involving Sheriff
Watson and our members had to escalate to the courts before the Sheriff finally came to his
senses. These unnecessary legal battles with Sheriff Watson have become an all too frequent
occurrence. I do not believe anything will change for the remainder of his time in office. Sheriff
Watson pretends to support his employees to the public, but his actions continue to show
Simply responding to PBA correspondence or acknowledging any of our collective bargaining or
other issues takes weeks, if not longer, for him or his designee to respond. Long time employees
are being treated like second class citizens by this new administration. Often, it is only the threat of
litigation and public exposure that seems to garner a response from Sheriff Watson or his
administration. Our members deserve to be treated fairly and equitably as Sheriff Watson claims
he does. I would like to recognize Bobi Frank of Bobi Frank Law, who represented our members
in this most recent litigation. Bobi worked tirelessly to ensure that our members received the
justice that they deserved. We extend our deepest gratitude for the work she does on behalf of the
NCFL PBA. Sheriff Watson, who continues to operate the Sheriff's office at critical staffing levels
in almost all areas of his agency, except his own command staff, should live up to his own words
and treat those who protect and serve Alachua County daily, as they deserve to be treated."
The sheriff released a statement last week regarding the incident.
“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.”
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