John H. Rutherford was first elected Sheriff on July 1, 2003, after receiving a sweeping mandate from Duval County voters on April 5, 2003. He was re-elected on March 20, 2007. In April of 2011, the voters of Duval County overwhelming returned Sheriff Rutherford to office.
Born on September 2, 1952, John has lived in Jacksonville since he was six years old. The Sheriff is married to high school sweetheart, Patricia, and they have two grown children, Michael (wife Francesca) and Lee (husband Delmar), who have blessed them with five grandchildren.
Sheriff Rutherford is a graduate of Florida State University, the FBI National Academy, as well as the FBI’s Executive Institute. He is a 40-year veteran with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Prior to his election, John Rutherford served for eight years under former Sheriff Nat Glover as the first ever appointment Director of Corrections. This appointment was significant and unique because it placed a career police officer in charge of the Department of Corrections. As expected, John’s “vision” and ability to manage change has led to several new innovations within local Corrections, making them a National leader.
During his law enforcement career, the Sheriff has served as a uniformed patrolman, sergeant and lieutenant. As a lieutenant, he worked in the Patrol and Detective Divisions and was soon assigned Director of the Region Five Criminal Justice Training Center, in charge of all regional police and corrections training in Northeast Florida. Having proven himself to be an excellent leader and innovator of change during these various commands, then Sheriff Jim McMillan, placed him in charge of a study to determine the efficacy of revolvers for officer self-defense. Rutherford produced a study on revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, which was later distributed across the country and is responsible for many agencies transitioning their officers to the Glock semi-automatic pistol. At a time when many officers were “out-gunned” by the criminal drug dealers, this study was a high profile officer safety success.
John was promoted to the rank of Captain and briefly returned to a patrol zone before being appointment to the rank of Chief by Sheriff McMillan. Again, because of his leadership skills and ability to innovate and manage change, he was appointed to serve as Chief of Services, Chief of Traffic/Special Operations and Chief of Patrol, where he commanded over 700 uniformed officers.
As Sheriff, John Rutherford quickly developed a ten-point plan to assure excellence in the department. He maintains the philosophy that Jacksonville deserves the right officers with the right training and the right equipment, properly deployed and skillfully managed. They must be men and women of character and sound judgment.