Potential candidates for Orange County sheriff emerge

Demings will remain sheriff while campaigning for mayor

Spike Hopkins, Orlando Police Chief John Mina and FDLE Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks are all considering running for Orange County sheriff.
Spike Hopkins, Orlando Police Chief John Mina and FDLE Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks are all considering running for Orange County sheriff.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Hours after Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings filed paperwork to run for Orange County mayor in the 2018 election, several local law enforcement officials made it known that they'd be interested in filling his spot as the county's top cop.

Demings will need to formally resign as sheriff by June 2018 in order to be on the August 2018 ballot for mayor. A special election will be held to determine who will take over the remaining two years of Demings' four-year term, according to the Orlando Sentinel

Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles also said there's the possibility that Demings could bow out of the mayoral race before he has to submit his letter of resignation in June. That means candidates vying for his spot as sheriff will actually be filing to run in the 2020 race, which is when Demings' term would end.

Demings said he plans to remain in his role as sheriff while campaigning for mayor.

"I do not plan on stepping down while I'm running for Orange County mayor. I intend to continue to serve right through taking office on December the fourth, 2018," Demings said.

Although no one has officially filed paperwork to run for Orange County sheriff, a few potential candidates have issued statements indicating that they are considering running.

"The best way to announce that you're officially running is to come in here and file your intent to run. Because until they file that intent, we always say talk is cheap. You can talk about it, but you better not collect a penny and you better not spend a penny on a campaign until you file that letter of intent here," Cowles said.

Republican Spike Hopkins ran against Demings in the 2016 election, earning 34 percent of the votes in November. He's told media outlets this year that he would consider running again if Demings were to vacate the position, but he has not issued an official statement since Demings filed for mayor on Thursday. 

During the sheriff race, Hopkins was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police and said he would patrol with deputies every Friday night if he were elected as sheriff.

Hopkins, a retired lieutenant, began working with Orange County Sheriff's Office in 1988 as a reserve deputy. Since then, he's worked on the SWAT team, narcotics and the Community Oriented Policing Squad.
He spent his final seven years with the agency supervising 340 deputies as night watch commander.

Orlando Police chief John Mina has expressed interest in the role of sheriff in the past. He released a statement to the media Thursday night reiterating his intentions.

"Now that Sheriff Demings has officially announced and filed to run for mayor, I'm giving very serious consideration to running for Orange County Sheriff and will make my final decision at a later date," Mina said.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer appointed Mina to his role as chief of police in 2014. Before that, he spent nearly three decades in various roles at OPD, including in the Criminal Investigations Division, Community Policing Division, Training Unit, Drug Enforcement Division and as the staff director for the Chief of Police.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Orlando Special Agent in Charge Danny Banks has also announced a potential bid for sheriff.

"I want to wish Sheriff Jerry Demings all the best in what is expected to be his upcoming campaign for Orange County Mayor. His anticipated announcement today opens an opportunity for me to pursue my longtime interest of serving the people of Orange County as its sheriff. As a native of Central Florida and a dedicated law enforcement professional, I believe we are at an important time in public safety and the next election is critical. I look forward to exploring more about a potential run for sheriff and talking to citizens about their concerns in the coming months," Banks said.

Banks has been involved in the law enforcement community since 1993 when he started his career at the Orange County Sheriff's Office then transitioned to the FDLE after six years. He has been a member of the FDLE's command staff for the past 10 years. 

Within the agency, he's responsible for developing the agency's counterterrorism initiative and the policies and procedures for investigations into officer-involved shootings.

Demings said he has spoken to some of the potential contenders, but it is still too soon for him to endorse a candidate for Orange County sheriff.

It's likely more contenders will emerge in the coming months.

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