Orlando, FL(FOX 35 Orlando) - The Fraternal Order of Police on Tuesday voted unanimously not to endorse Orange County Sheriff John Mina in his re-election bid.
A recent union survey showed a majority of respondents complained of low morale. Many said, if they were in a use-of-force case that went public, they believe Mina wouldn't support them.
When Sheriff Mina took a knee with demonstrators during the protests last month, some of his deputies were disappointed. One made a comment in the union survey, “ You knelt with the same protesters/rioters who were hurling insults and bricks at us for your own political gain."
When a deputy smashed a woman’s car window after she refused to move out of the middle of a busy street, many deputies disapproved of how it was handled, saying the charges against the woman were dropped and now the deputy is under investigation without due process.
Last week, Sheriff Mina told FOX 35 News that he is working to find common ground with members of the community, pleading for change and his own deputies.
"This has been a tough time for them. You know, going from COVID, they weren’t able to shelter like everyone else -- possibly infecting themselves and their families -- and then right into protests and rallies," Mina said. "So they’re feeling a little under-appreciated and maybe a little vilified and I think if you did a survey in any metropolitan area you would get similar results.”
Sheriff Mina then released an official statement on Wednesday:
"I was disappointed to learn that the union rescinded its endorsement late last night.
"I understand that these are tough times in law enforcement – we are all feeling vilified because of the intense spotlight on law enforcement misconduct. I value and respect our deputies and all of their hard work. They risk their lives every day, doing one of the most difficult and complex jobs in the world. And they are some of the best law enforcement has to offer.
"But I am the Sheriff of everyone in Orange County, and voters elected me to keep this community safe. I am accountable to them – and I am also accountable to all members of this agency.
"The changes I have already instituted at the Sheriff’s Office might have been the impetus for the union’s decision to pull its endorsement by a vote of 50 members. If that’s the case, I accept that. I have made some difficult decisions and have levied harsh discipline for policy violations. I have terminated deputies for excessive force or for breaking the law.
"I will continue the work of finding common ground with members of our community who are pleading for change. But I want everyone at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to know that I am extremely proud of the work they do. My door is always open to them and I am willing to have any discussions, even difficult ones."
The FOP Lodge 25 represents 1,268 members of the Orange County Sheriff's Office. The FOP president says they do not plan to endorse anyone. The election takes place on August 18.
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