Read our exclusive Q&A with Orange County sheriff candidate John Mina.
Why have you decided to run for county sheriff?
After serving more than 27 years with the Orlando Police Department, I still have a strong desire to serve my community. Ensuring the safety of the residents and visitors of Orange County has been my life’s work. I have been a resident of Orange County for 28 years and I care deeply about the safety of this community. I feel a huge responsibility to run for Sheriff because I am the most qualified person and have the most experience. I have shown proven leadership in crisis situations and have become a trusted face of law enforcement in Central Florida.
Why should citizens elect you to this position?
Simply put, I am the most qualified person for this job. I am the only active law enforcement officer in the race. I am the only candidate who has been a chief of a large law-enforcement agency. This is not a position for on-the-job training and the residents of Orange County have seen me lead our community through good times and bad. Under my leadership, we have reduced crime, reduced use of police force, reduced officer-involved shootings, and reduced complaints on officers by citizens. I am tested, trusted, and ready to be the sheriff.
What are the three biggest needs of the Sheriff’s Department now, and what would you do to fill that need?
The three biggest needs of the sheriff’s office are: hiring more deputies to keep up with vacancies and attrition; ensuring there are enough School Resource Officers in every school, and keeping up with the growth of Orange County –– specifically the Lake Nona area, International Drive, and Horizon West. I intend to work closely with the new mayor and county commission to ensure we have enough deputies to fill these needs, who are receiving pay commensurate with their duties and competitive with surrounding agencies.
Despite population growth, Orange County's overall crime rate dropped nearly 4 percent in 2017. What is your strategy to continue this trend?
My strategy to continue the decrease in crime countywide is to continue operations that target our most violent and prolific offenders while working with some of our more challenging communities so that they feel comfortable in cooperating with law enforcement. Additionally, I will continue a new joint venture that is a community-based response to crime called the “The Power Movement.” I will also put more resources into expanding our Neighborhood Watch Program and finally bring a lot of the great community policing initiatives that I have done in the City of Orlando to all of Orange County.
Some west orange residents have expressed frustration with Orange County Sheriff's Office response times. What measures would you consider taking to improve police response times?
I will conduct a study using the PCAM (Patrol Car Allocation Model), which determines the number of deputies to have on duty in every area of the county. Based on the results of the study, I will hire additional deputies and/or reallocate resources from other parts of the agency based on the greatest need until we have enough deputies to respond in a timely fashion. I will also work with both businesses and residents in West Orange County to hear the needs and issues firsthand.
If elected, how would you promote community involvement and improve communication between the department and the public?
I have a well-documented history of engaging with our community like never before. Voters just merely need to look over our social media feeds on Twitter and Facebook to see the countless community engagement activities, mentoring programs, and other informal ways we build trust with our residents. We have learned that, in addition to arresting criminals, we need to proactively engage with our residents –– especially our youth. This has had the greatest impact on not only the reduction of crime, but has enhanced relations between the police and our community.
How would you work to keep incarceration rates down?
I have already done that at the Orlando Police Department and will bring some of those initiatives to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. The first is the increased use of Juvenile Civil Citations for our youth who have committed low-level misdemeanor offenses that are not violent in nature. The second way would be to issue civil citations for small amounts of marijuana. Both of these initiatives have already helped (lower) our incarceration rate in the City of Orlando and is something that could work for all of Orange County.