OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Whomever wins the November election for Osceola County Sheriff will be the first Hispanic sheriff in the county’s history.
Both candidates are former Osceola County deputies. While the county’s Hispanic population is estimated to be around 55%, only a third of the deputies employed by the sheriff’s dffice are Latinos.
Marco Lopez and Luis Tony Fernandez each say they understand the importance of being a Latino and a Spanish speaking law enforcement officer.
Lopez, who won a primary against incumbent Russ Gibson, says he wants to implement a committee advisory review board and a veterans liaison department.
He says he also wants to focus on de-escalation training and mental health practices while working to boost morale at the department.
“Putting in a good administration that’s going to understand this, and try to help bring that up, because it’s just going to benefit the community all the way around,” Lopez says.
As for Fernandez, he says, “My slogan is equal justice for all.”
Fernandez says he wants to rid the department of any unfairness and plans to focus on field training as well.
“You have to de-escalate immediately and treat the person like the human being they are.”
He also wants to form a citizens advisory board made of community ambassadors to help the department understand what they want and need from the deputies.
“Show them that it’s not us versus them. We are not the punisher. We are the guardian angels of the citizens,” Fernandez says.
Both described the lack of hispanic deputies as" unacceptable" and say they’ll work to recruit more.
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