Read our exclusive Q&A with Orange County Sheriff candidate John Mina.
Family: Married for 28 years; two grown sons
Education: Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration; halfway through a Master’s degree, both from Columbia College
Qualifications: I have been a law-enforcement officer for nearly 30 years. I served as chief of the Orlando Police Department for almost four years and now the sheriff of Orange County for almost two years.
Why are you running again for county sheriff?
I 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 30 years, and I care deeply about the safety of this community. I feel a huge responsibility to run for sheriff again 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.
What qualities and skills do you bring to the position?
I have 30 years of law-enforcement experience. I have attended the FBI National Academy and the Southern Police Institute Command Officer Development Course. I have been both a chief of police and sheriff. I have also testified before U.S. Congress and spoken at the White House on police-related issues. I am a board member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Why are you the best candidate?
I am by far the most qualified and have the most experience. I have been chief and sheriff of two of the largest law-enforcement agencies in Florida. I have shown that I can lead our community through crisis and tragedy, such as the Pulse shooting, COVID and now the unrest that was caused by nationwide incidents involving law enforcement. And I have shown calm, measured leadership in dealing with those events. I have been able to reduce crime at both agencies I led. Crime is down in Orange County by 19% and violent crime is down by 12%.
What are the three biggest needs of the Sheriff’s Office now, and how would you work to fill those needs?
As Orange County continues to grow, so does the need to increase the amount of deputies. No. 1 is keeping up with attrition and growth. We have worked hard to increase our staff and hired almost 200 deputies last year. We will continue that momentum to ensure we are keeping up with growth. No. 2 is the need for a new communications center. We will continue to work with Orange County gGovernment to get this accomplished. No. 3 is the need to expand our current operations building and fleet management on John Young Parkway. As we continue to grow so does the need for space. We have submitted capital improvement projects and are working with Orange County government to accomplish these needs.
How should the Sheriff’s Office change or grow following the nationwide unrest caused by the death of George Floyd?
I have worked with several community groups and my own Citizen’s Advisory Committee to take a hard look at our training and use-of-force policy. I have also convened my own internal work group to look at best practices from around the country. Both the internal group and my Citizen’s Advisory Committee will meet to work on these policies together. The good news is that many of the ideas and suggestions from the community on the use of force have already been implemented here at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
How can the Sheriff’s Office relationship with the community improve?
Community engagement is extremely important to me. I have a strong record of working with the community and listening to their needs. Since being elected, I have increased the amount of community-engagement events and have shared my philosophy of building trust and treating all people with dignity and respect. The only way to continue to build the relationship is to continue listening and change policies that mirror the community’s need when practical.
As West Orange County continues to grow, how should the Sheriff’s Office change to accommodate that growth?
We must continue to hire more deputies and increase our staffing levels to accommodate growth. We have completed a study that says we need more deputies. We have adjusted the size of each sector in Orange County so there will be more deputies in each area. At my direction, we applied for and have received federal funding for $2.5 million that will help offset the cost of 20 additional deputies.