• Central Florida sheriffs react to new high-profile laws

    By: Christopher Heath

    Updated:

    9 Investigates recently sat down with two Central Florida sheriffs -- Orange County’s John Mina and Volusia County’s Mike Chitwood -- to get their reaction to three new high-profile laws: texting while driving, sanctuary cities and arming teachers.  

    Ban on texting while driving:

    Mina: “Here is what we know.  One in every four accidents is a result of distracted driving, so we are going to be aggressive on that, especially when that first starts, because we want people to get out of the habit.  If people think we’re not going to enforce it, then the law has been for nothing and we’ve wasted all this time.  Why not start enforcing it right away, get people out of the habit?  We’ve all been there, where we’ve done it.  But, it is time for people to put down the phones and stop texting while driving.”

    Chitwood: “It is absolutely need and it’s a no-brainer.  When you look at the people’s lives who have been shattered.  But, like anything else, it comes down to personal responsibility.  You shouldn’t have to lose a loved one to realize, 'Hey this is a bad idea to be doing this’ and I just think it is a matter of time technology catches up to us and you won’t be able to use your phone in the car.”

    “If you get pulled over, you are getting a ticket.  The word has gone out.  The days of warning are over.”

    Sanctuary city ban:

    Chitwood: “It means absolutely nothing.  We are going to continue to do business the same way we always have.  If there is a warrant out for your arrest, no matter who you are, we are coming to get you.  If ICE comes in here and says, ‘I have a warrant for someone and we need your help’ they are going to get our help.  It’s that simple.  We work very closely with the law enforcement are of ICE.  They are tasked with going after people who are dangerous criminals or a threat to national security.  Now, do I think we (VCSO) should be tasked with going after people who overstayed their visas?  That’s not our job.  Our job is to go out and eradicate the people from our community that are causing havoc.”

    Mina: “The law, the way it is written, does not affect the way we do business in Orange County.  Our deputies are going to arrest people for violations of state statute, warrants signed by a judge, or violation of county ordinances.  This really has more to do with the jail and how they deal with people who have already been arrested on a local crime for an immigration detainer that they already have.”    

    “As far as the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and really all the local law enforcement in the area, we already cooperate with all the federal agencies: FBI, DEA, to include ICE.  I will tell you that when I was chief, and now as sheriff, ICE has never reached out to me and wanted to do some sort of immigration detail and I don’t think that will happen.”

    Arming teachers (Volusia uses guardians, Orange does not):

    Mina: “We’ve been looking at this for several months, because we saw the legislation coming and reached out to other agencies to see what they were doing and as an agency we decided if a charter school reaches out to use, we are going to provide the guardian training.  I don’t think it is right, or necessary for someone to a sheriff of another county to provide this training.”

    “My preference would be to have a deputy in every charter school, there is already one in every public school.”

    Chitwood: “In the ideal world, I would love for us to have a law enforcement officer on every campus in the state of Florida, and if not the state of Florida, at least Volusia County.  But the fact of the matter is that is not going to happen.  It’s not going to happen because, number one, the expense would be incredible to bear, just not going to happen.  The second reason is, we cannot fill our vacancies right now.”

    “Our high schools, our campuses in Florida are so big that you need to have two people there.  I’m all for it, you got to find a way to solve the problem and the only thing that defeats evil is a good guy with a gun.”

    Sheriff John Mina is the former chief of police for the city of Orlando.  Mina is in his first term as the sheriff of Orange County.  

    Sheriff Mike Chitwood is the former chief of police for the city of Daytona Beach.  Chitwood is in his first term as the sheriff of Volusia County.  

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