In an effort to help you make informed decisions during the General Election, ABC Action News has reached out to dozens of candidates running for office. The following statements have been submitted to ABC Action News by the candidate. Every candidate was given the same set of questions. These are their responses in his/her own words.
Name: Chad Chronister
Office: Hillsborough County Sheriff
I have served twenty-eight years with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office and worked in nearly every facet of law enforcement including patrol, SWAT, narcotics, criminal intelligence,
environmental enforcement, community outreach and operational support. After Sheriff Gee retired in 2017, I was appointed as Sheriff and then elected by the citizens of Hillsborough County in November 2018. I have a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and Master of Science degree in criminology both from St. Leo University. I am a graduate of the FBI National Academy. I am Co-Chairman of the Regional Domestic Security Task Force. I am a Member of the Florida Attorney General’s Statewide Council on Human Trafficking and the Chairman of the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee of that Council. I am the Vice-Chairman of Hillsborough County’s Public Safety Coordinating Council, and I am also the Vice-Chairman of Hillsborough County’s Public Schools Citizen Oversight Committee. Additionally, I am a board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay and Metropolitan Ministries.
Why should voters vote for you?
I have the experience, dedication, and professionalism to run the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office, and I have a demonstrated record of crime reduction, protecting public safety, and ensuring our Sheriff’s Office continues to evolve to meet safety needs of this community. Since becoming Sheriff, we have achieved double-digit crime reduction, increased the safety of our schools, aggressively pursued violent criminals, advanced undercover sting operations that combat criminals seeking to harm the most vulnerable members of our community— our children and elderly citizens, and implemented successful programs to steer kids away from crime. We now have the best training programs for our deputies and record levels of community engagement. These efforts will continue under my leadership and together, we will keep our community safe.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
Protecting public safety is always my number one priority. With a county nearly 1200 square miles in size and a population of almost 1.5 million, I am constantly evaluating the safety needs of our community. Whether it is proactive efforts that prevent crime before it happens or our increased need for patrol deputies to respond to calls, public safety is and will continue to be our top priority. Additionally, I am committed to expanding our efforts on mental health treatment and training, implementing our body-worn camera program to enhance our trust and transparency with the community, and continuing our proactive, community policing programs. Each of these priorities will further our mission to serve, protect, and defend this community while preserving the rights and dignity of all.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
- We are building a safer community that has led to a double-digit crime reduction in each of the last two years.
- Our proactive crime prevention programs and undercover sting operations have taken thousands of unwanted guns off our streets and stopped human traffickers, internet predators, and
fraudulent construction contractors before they could hurt our community.
- We have earned the trust of this community as we implement body-worn cameras that keep deputies and citizens safer, built the most diverse Sheriff’s office in the history of our department,
and kept criminals off our streets.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
I am passionate about law enforcement and our kids. I believe a Sheriff must be dedicated to the success of the community both today and in the future. In law enforcement, we often see people at their worst moment— when they have been victimized by a criminal. In those moments, we must be compassionate, thorough in our investigation, and dedicated to finding the wrongdoer. We cannot, however, only be reactive to crime. We must steer our kids away from crime through mentorship. We must make sure they can get safely to school and have a safe environment in which to learn. We must dedicate our energy and resources to protecting our kids. As a Sheriff and as a tireless advocate for the youngest members of our community, I am dedicated to doing all I can to ensure law enforcement builds a community that is safe and that our kids will be proud of.
As it relates to the role you are seeking, how has that governmental body handled the Covid-19 pandemic? What would you do differently/the same in handling both the public health risk and the economic recovery?
From our jails to our patrol deputies, we have relentlessly protected the health and safety of our community during this unprecedented health crisis. We have been proactive in protecting our citizens, employees, and inmates from the spread of COVID-19. From health screenings to state-of-the-art sanitizing of our vehicles and facilities to working with community partners to raise awareness of the coronavirus, law enforcement has played a critical role in public health during this challenge. We also know that a safe and healthy community is critical to our long-term economic recovery. That is why, even as we see the data related to new cases improve, we are fiercely dedicated to making sure we do all we can limit the spread of this virus.
In the role you are seeking, what will you do to address issues of racism and inequality?
To address racism and inequality, we must first listen. Listen to those in our community who want to be heard and protected. We are listening and will continue to do so. I also believe a Sheriff must build strong community relationships and have a law enforcement agency that reflects the community we serve. Over the last three years, our record-setting community engagement efforts have resulted in strong community partnerships. I am proud that our agency is now the most diverse law enforcement agency in the history of Hillsborough County.
In addition, we have taken some immediate steps to increase transparency. We have implemented our body-worn camera program and brought in an independent agency to review all incidents involving our use of deadly force. Long-term, we are committed to having ongoing conversations about racial injustice. We know there is no one program or policy that will immediately solve racism or inequality.
Instead, we must work every day to earn the trust of this community and ensure that our justice system protects the rights and dignity of all.
What motivates you to run for public office?
I believe success in law enforcement only comes from those who have an earnest belief in helping the community. I was inspired to serve at a young age through the example of my grandfather who was a decorated Marine during World War II. This inspiration led to my career in law enforcement. My motivation to continue serving as your Sheriff is to be that person with a helping hand and to build a safe community for everyone.