John Mina was only a child when he decided he wanted to be a police officer. Two experiences with officers set the stage for Orlando Police Department Chief John Mina to pursue a career in law enforcement. The first experience was a positive one, however, the second experience was not. He brought that tenacity into his adult life and soon it became his career. He ultimately became the Chief of Police for the city of Orlando. Now, Mina attempts to capture the seat of Orange County Sheriff to continue his service.
Humble, meek, with a look of no nonsense yet seemingly shy Chief John Mina has led a force of around 800 police officers in Orlando. Just because Mina has served Orange county all his professional life doesn’t mean voters are grasping at the proverbial straw to consider him Orange county’s next Sheriff. A trusted relationship with many Orlando residents is why his supporters are vowing to elect him as guardian of their county. His calm demeanor and impeccable leadership helped guide the city through one of the worst mass shootings in modern history. When a gunman went into Pulse nightclub and killed 49 individuals while wounding countless others, Chief John Mina became a household name around the country. Karen Fray, a resident and voter in Orange county said, “I am voting for John Mina because his outstanding leadership is reflected in his attitude to the entire community. I’m confident that his professional and dedicated attitude will be reflected in the Sheriff’s department.”
But, elections aren’t always easy regardless of achievement and experience. Criticism abounds and some voters define leadership differently; especially so when it comes to law enforcement. According to the website, NeighborhoodScout.com, crime rates are over 80% higher in the urban areas of Orlando, which would warrant having more security and surveillance to keep law-abiding citizens safe. Mina said, “residents say we want more police. We need more officers out here.” But, even boosting that presence for community protection doesn’t come without scrutiny.
Lawanna Gelzer, a 40-year resident of the Parramore neighborhood in Orlando, is skeptical about law enforcement’s intentions and doesn’t want her neighborhood to be over-policed. Gelzer said, “If we are the most policed community, why hasn’t crime gone down?”
The resistance is two-fold. In order for crime to go down and for residents to feel safe, there has to be law enforcement presence in areas plagued with higher crime rates.
Gelzer continued, “Over-policing surged when Val Demings was there. We don’t need no police state. We are already in it.” However, some residents in urban areas of town disagree with Gelzer. They attribute successes, like the capture of alleged killer Markeith Loyd, to Mina’s team although Loyd’s first alleged crime of shooting and killing Sade Dixon and her unborn baby occurred in the county, which is in the jurisdiction of the Orange County Sheriff, Jerry Demings.
Obviously, where there is more crime, there is more of a need to keep residents safe. Mina said, “Policing is based on need and based on citizen complaints. Areas with less crime probably see less police activity because we try to save lives and stop crime.”
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or FDLE crime went down in 2017 from 2016. Although the Pulse nightclub tragedy is included in the figures, the rate of violent crime dropped by almost 14% under Mina’s leadership even with the population in Orlando growing at a rate close to 3%.
This article is part one of a three part series.