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This post is in response to Highlands County Sheriff's Office Facebook post on February 13, 2024 regarding the new Body Camera program. 

On February 14, 2024, The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is initiating a body camera pilot program. My opponent is touting the implementation of the body camera program as some kind of feather in his cap. Let me inform you that exceptional body camera equipment has been around and in use in law enforcement for well over a decade and my opponent has been in the sheriff for over 7 years, almost two full terms. My opponent DID NOT have a real desire to implement the use of body cameras and all the benefits use of these cameras provide in modern policing, until I began my political campaign to oppose him. My opponent had no desire to take advantage of the efficient gathering of physical and testimonial evidence the use of body cameras provide. My opponent had no desire to protect your deputy sheriffs against false misconduct complaints and use of force and deadly force incidents that deputies frequently face. My opponent had no desire for you, the public, to have access to the high level of transparency provided using these cameras. If there is any doubt in your mind to statements, I have made here, I refer you the November 29, 2023, Highlands News-Sun article in which the sheriff had to return to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) and ask for the first installment of $423,000.00 for the body cameras. My opponent returned $1,859,000. Just two months earlier at the end of the 2022-2023 budget year. If my opponent really wanted the body camera program implemented prior to receiving political opposition he would have done it years ago and not now, in the year leading to local elections when he is trying to get re-elected. 

My opponent should have DONE THE RIGHT THING WHEN NO ONE WAS WATCHING. In the same article the current sheriff said he will let the in-car cameras “wear out” with no mention if those cameras will be replaced. In-car cameras are not the same as body worn cameras and they provide a different type of evidence and perspective as video footage goes. The in-car cameras CANNOT be allowed to “wear out” with no plan to replace them which is certainly the stance implied in the new article.  

On another note, my opponent has returned $7,700,000 and average of $1,100,000 per year to the BOCC since taking office in 2017. My opponent has refused to provide your Highlands County deputy sheriffs and detention deputies with significant incremental pay raises to keep pace with other law enforcement agencies in the area. The starting pay for a Highlands County deputy with no experience is $47,200.00, the starting pay for a deputy in Hardee County is $49,700, the starting pay of a Desoto County deputy is $55,000, the starting pay for your state agencies such as FWC, FHP and FDLE is $55,000, and the starting pay for a Polk County deputy is now $58,500.00. If you were a recent law enforcement academy graduate with your Florida standards in tow, where would you go to work???
The sheriff should stop placing your deputies closer to the poverty line and he should stop returning such large sums of approved and budgeted monies to the BOCC for his own vanity.   

All my opponent’s administrative staff, half (1/2) of whom are literally/actually retired in the Florida Retirement System and who are participating in the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) received a 5% raise this year. The lowest pay for any of these administrative positions is $81,000.00 a year. The Under Sheriff (Colonel) makes $166,000.00 a year (more than your Constitutionally elected officials while your deputies struggle to make ends meet and who are met with staunch opposition by the sheriff when they ask for pay increases. All this information is documented fact and available to you through public record requests.     

John Singha for Highlands County Sheriff 2024!



Political advertisement paid for and approved by John Singha, Republican, for Highlands County Sheriff.
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