ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Police Department Chief John Mina on Thursday officially announced his candidacy in the race for Orange County sheriff.
Mina sat down with News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld to discuss his position to run for office and why he is ready to be Orange County sheriff. Mina has worked in law enforcement agencies for 27 years, in SWAT and in his current role since 2014, when he was appointed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
"With the opening for sheriff early, I saw this opportunity and wanted to jump on it because, like I said, I want the job. I think I'm the best person for the job and I feel a responsibility to keep this community safe," Mina said.
Mina told News 6 that his strong ties to the community and his ability to lead the city during the Pulse tragedy are only a few of the reasons why he is ready to be sheriff.
"I'm the chief of the largest municipal police department in central Florida. It's the fourth largest municipal police department in the whole state of Florida," Mina said.
Additionally, Mina said, managing a staff of 1,000 people, managing a $142 million budget along with strategic planning, unions, arbitration and grievances will also help him if he is elected as sheriff.
Current Sheriff Jerry Demings has been sheriff since 2008. Mina said a transition should be smooth and that he knows the issues in Orange County.
He further elaborated on how the Pulse mass shooting where 49 people were killed on June 12, 2016, taught him and how he watched the community rally together.
"It's hard to encapsulate all into one statement but I will say that the most important thing is preparedness -- training and preparedness and also having those relationships throughout the community," Mina said.
Mina credited his department as well as law enforcement, city and county government agencies with helping them through the tragedy that has been having an impact on the City Beautiful almost two years later.
Mina said he contacted the Broward County Sheriffs and offered his agency's assistance after 17 people were killed in a school shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
"We know what they're going through as a community and it's tough, Mina said. My heart goes out to all the families, friends and all those involved.
Mina said he wants the loopholes that allow the sales of semi-automatic weapons, silencers, bump stocks and military-style ammunition stopped.
"There are manufactures making rounds specifically designed to penetrate body armor. Why do we have that? Mina said. "People on both sides of the issue are going to have to come up with something together that makes both sides uncomfortable."
Mina will have to qualify for the official race as a "no party affiliation" candidate. His opponents are Democratic candidate OCSO Capt. Thomas Aaron Stroup, of the Orange County Sheriff's Office, and Republican candidate Jose "Joe" Lopez, a retired Florida Highway Patrol chief.
Once Mina qualifies, he will submit his official letter of resignation as police chief.
If elected, Mina is expected to leave his job in late November. If he loses, he will still step down as chief. Mayor Dyer will appoint his replacement.