Lakesha Burton wants to be Jacksonville’s first black sheriff

Lakesha Burton, a 22-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, is the first candidate to announce a candidacy to replace current Sheriff Mike Williams. If elected, Burton, a Democrat and current deputy chief in the sheriff’s office, would be the first black woman to run the office.

Across the country there are few black police chiefs or sheriffs and even fewer black women running law enforcement agencies.

Following the May 2020 assassination of George Floyd, law enforcement agencies have been targeted by the public for police shootings and the use of force by officers. Burton said the mass protests against police brutality caused them to flee.

She said it might help bridge a relationship between the two groups.

“I want to challenge the perception that we are against them,” Burton said in an email to The Tributary. “I know that most people want justice and public safety. The idea that we have to choose between these is a wrong choice. I’ll prove that as the next Jacksonville Sheriff. “

The election isn’t before 2023, when Williams is forced to step down over tenure restrictions.

In her two-decade career, Burton rose through the ranks. Here are five biographical points in her life, based on some public statements she made and her personnel file released by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office through a public file request:

1. She began her career as a patrol officer in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in 1999. Known then as Lakesha Anderson, she married in 2008 her husband, Gregory Burton, also a JSO officer. He retired as chief in 2020 and the couple have five children. In her 22 year career, she has worked in the patrol, community affairs and recruitment departments, as well as in the field training unit.

2. She is a sexual abuse survivor. When she was 15, she said she got pregnant so her stepfather would stop rape her. During her high school years, she began using drugs and alcohol to relieve her depression.

3. As a teenage mother, she stole diapers and baby food for her son when a police officer arrested her. The officer, instead of jailing her, took her to the Police Athletic League of Jacksonville, a nonprofit after school program run by the Sheriff’s Office that helps teenagers focus on sports and extracurricular activities. In 2015, Burton became Executive Director of the nonprofit organization.

4. According to her personnel file, her managers were satisfied with the running of the nonprofit, said she advertised her services with news organizations and maintained a high student population. The personnel file also contained letters from crime victims thanking Burton and some of her colleagues for answering their calls.

5. Your employee reviews have been mostly positive. Her supervisors would say that she met or exceeded the standards during her career. But, according to an October 2019 review, Burton and a supervisor discussed “a formal investigation involving several officers under their command that was improperly conducted”.

The evaluation does not provide any further details on this incident. But Burton responded to the assessment by saying, “The alleged mismanagement resulted from my lack of additional information to be added to the investigation package and the lieutenant deliberately and fraudulently withholding information and an official document of the results without my knowledge (internal affairs ) submitted, consent or signature. “

This story is published through a partnership between WJCT News and The Tributary. As part of its role in overseeing the upcoming 2023 local elections, the tributary intends to request personnel files for all candidates for the Jacksonville Sheriff and is paying $ 222 to obtain the personnel file for Lakesha Burton, the first declared candidate. View the full file here.

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