Each week, we're asking each of the Pinellas County sheriff candidates a question that's important to you, the voter, so you can be informed come ballot time.
This week, we asked:
If elected, how will your past work and life experience contribute to your role as sheriff?
Scott Swope answers:
"My work and life history make me uniquely qualified to lead the Sheriff’s Office.
"I worked as a Pinellas County Deputy for six years, which is long enough to appreciate and understand the law enforcement culture. However, I’ve been away from the Sheriff’s Office long enough to view law enforcement from the perspective of the general populace. There is a need to restore public confidence in the Sheriff’s Office and the best way to accomplish this goal is to bring in a new leader who is not part of the “Good Ole Boy” network.
"I am the only candidate with a business degree. I started a law firm from nothing and built it up to a multi-million dollar law firm in six years. The Sheriff’s Office is similar to a $220 million business. My education and training in business concepts such as economies of scale, management strategies, and organizational behavior will be invaluable to me as Sheriff. All of the current organizational and procedural paradigms will be subject to scrutiny and modification or elimination. Had the previous Sheriffs been properly educated in the ways of business and been fiscally conservative with the taxpayers’ money, perhaps the Sheriff’s Office would be in a better position than it is today.
"I have a law degree from the University of Florida. I appreciate the limitations on government contained in the United States Constitution and the Florida Constitution. The ends do not justify the means. The laws will be enforced when I am Sheriff, and they will be enforced within the boundaries of the Bill of Rights.
"I am the only candidate with judicial experience. I was a traffic court magistrate for seven years. The quality of even-temperament required of judicial officers, coupled with the ability to listen to multiple arguments for and against an issue and make reasoned decisions based on the evidence, will prove to be invaluable to me as Sheriff in dealing with the County Commission, thousands of employees, and hundreds of thousands of Pinellas County citizens.
"I have a rich family history of military service. My father served in World War II and my three brothers served in the Vietnam War. I believe that the young men and women who return to the United States after serving in the military should be given priority in the hiring process at the Sheriff’s Office. They already understand many law enforcement concepts like the chain of command, appropriate use of force, and firearms safety and proficiency.
"I was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and represented members of the FOP after graduating from law school. As Sheriff, I will ensure that deputies who are accused of wrongdoing will receive all of the due process and protections to which they are entitled under the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. Additionally, I will work collaboratively with the police union to provide fair compensation and benefits to the men and women at the Sheriff’s Office who have dedicated their lives to protecting us."