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Michelle Cook becomes new Clay County sheriff

"Today we are turning a page in the history of this agency and the community," Cook told The Florida Times-Union in a text before the swearing-in ceremony.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. — Michelle Cook was sworn in as Clay County sheriff this afternoon by Gov. Ron DeSantis at Sheriff's Office headquarters in Green Cove Springs.

"Today we are turning a page in the history of this agency and the community," Cook told The Times-Union in a text before the swearing-in ceremony.

"I'm looking forward to serving the citizens of Clay County and the members of the Clay County Sheriff's Office," said Cook, adding she will begin the transition this week. 

Cook defeated disgraced incumbent Darryl Daniels in the Aug. 18 Republican primary — just four days after DeSantis removed him from office.

Daniels was seeking a second four-year term. DeSantis removed him one day after being arrested in a sex scandal where he had ordered deputies to arrest his mistress.

The 55-year-old former sheriff is charged with one felony count of destroying evidence on a cellphone and three misdemeanors of lying to investigators about his mistress stalking him.

Daniels has pleaded not guilty to the charges and vehemently denied them. He has described his arrest and removal as "dirty politics."

On Aug. 16, DeSantis appointed Matt Walsh as interim Clay sheriff. A 23-year law enforcement veteran, Walsh was the assistant special-agent-in-charge of the Jacksonville region for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Walsh also served as supervisor of the agency's Public Integrity Squad.

Cook then won the Republican primary to become the new Clay County sheriff. She defeated Daniels and several other candidates.

She received 37 percent of the vote to oust Daniels with 29 percent in the Republican Primary. She advances to the Nov. 3 general election in which her only challenger is a write-in candidate, who subsequently dropped out of the race.

Cook is a 28-year law enforcement veteran, serving with both the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and most recently as chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department.

A Green Cove Springs native, she retired from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office as director of patrol and enforcement and third in command of the department to become Atlantic Beach chief in 2017.

Cook has a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of North Florida, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a minor in public administration. She also is a graduate of the FBI Law Enforcement Executives training and a member of the Florida Police Chief’s Association.

Read the original version of this story from our news partners, the Florida Times-Union.

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