JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Following a five-month search, a new Duval County Public Schools police chief has been recommended.
Tuesday the school district announced that Superintendent Diana Greene will recommend Gregory Burton for the role at an upcoming School Board meeting. The board would have to approve the recommendation before Burton could start late summer.
“I am very excited about this opportunity to provide leadership and build on the strong capabilities of this department,” Burton said in a statement. “School campuses are a safe haven for so many children in our community. I look forward to working with the officers and staff of the Duval County School Police Department to ensure we continue to enhance security and protect our schools so students, teachers, and administrators can all focus on learning and achievement.”
Burton is a retired Jacksonville Sherriff's Office assistant chief who served in that role for five years until 2020, according to a resume provided by the school district. He's known for his work in Zone 6 on the Northside as a zone commander, where his community presence was praised. He is also married to Lakesha Burton, the first Black woman to run for sheriff in Jacksonville.
The hiring move comes after former Chief Micheal Edwards abruptly resigned. Edwards was replaced by Assistant Chief Wayne Clark Sr. on an interim basis. Edwards' resignation came on the heels of a damning grand jury report that accused the school police department of fraud and fudged incident report numbers.
Clark told the school district he intended to leave to "pursue other personal goals," but would stay through early September to help with the transition.
With former experience at schools, serving as a unit commander for school resource officers and a school resource officer before that, Burton comes with 19 years of experience.
According to a news release from Duval Schools, he was selected out of 17 applicants following a national search.
“Mr. Burton has unique experience in the nuances of school policing and working with and around young people,” Greene said. “His school experience, his exceptional leadership career and strong relationships with the Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office combine to make him the perfect candidate to lead our school police.”
The School Board meeting to approve Greene's recommendation to make Burton the executive director will take place on July 12.