Orange County sheriff pushing to shut down businesses riddled with crime

Sheriff John Mina wants statute amended to give sheriff's office that power

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Sheriff John Mina is working to make his county safer by trying to shut down troubled businesses where crimes occur. 

Mina has proposed amending language to the Florida statute, which the county follows, giving the sheriff's office the authority to ultimately force businesses to close. 

If approved, the amended language would add the inclusion of incidents of murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery with the use of a deadly weapon and/or aggravated assault with the use of a deadly weapon -- if the incidents occur on more than two occasions within a six-month period.

Currently, the county's ordinance, which falls under the state statute, only includes prostitution, drugs, theft and gang activity. Many residents believe that's a big problem.

"I feel that should be number one," Orange County resident Tina Carreros said. "They should have been shut down a long time ago, with all of the violence."

Mina's push to close the problem spots comes after recent incidents of crime outside some Orange County bars. Deputies said their hands are tied because, under current law, there's nothing they can do to shut the clubs down based on recent crime.

Last year, the Happy Place Sports Bar off Southland Boulevard experienced three shootings in four months, with two of them deadly, according to deputies. In February, a man was shot outside El Rinconcito Bar on Colonial Drive.

[RELATED: Shootings, troubled history follow Orange County bar ownersOrange County bars tied to deadly shootings were used to traffic drugs, authorities say]

At a commission meeting Tuesday, Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla said she believes the county should have more authority to make changes to its own ordinance, not state leaders. She said other Florida counties have made provisions to the state statute for their area. The commissioner said she wants to discuss the issue at a future meeting. 

"To see what our options are and how we can make this better for Orange County, so we can make sure that criminals know that Orange County is not the place for these activities," Bonilla said.  

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said, as former Orange County sheriff and Orlando police chief, he’s fully aware of how deputies' hands are tied when it comes to shutting down troubled clubs.

"There is pending legislation in Tallahassee that may change the current law that allows us to enact an ordinance related to this matter," Demings said.  

Watch News 6 and continue checking to see if and when there are changes made to the county ordinance or the state statute. 

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.