Florida police union pulls endorsement of Orange County sheriff who took a knee with protesters

'These are tough times in law enforcement'

The Fraternal Order of Police voted unanimously on Tuesday not to endorse Orange County Sheriff John Mina in his re-election bid, following his decision to take a knee with Black Lives Matter protesters last month.

A union survey showed that a majority of respondents complained about low morale and many believed Mina wouldn't back them up if they were involved in a use-of-force case that went public, according to Fox 35.

One union member who was surveyed said, “You knelt with the same protesters/rioters who were hurling insults and bricks at us for your own political gain."

Mina took a knee with Orlando demonstrators who were protesting against police brutality and systemic racism after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.

He said he and Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón were asked to kneel by some young men at the protest in a show of solidarity.

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“The two young gentlemen asked us to kneel and we said, ‘Well, why don't we kneel and pray?’” Mina had told Fox News. “And so we did, and I think that sent a great message not only to the people protesting out there but to our officers and our deputies who were watching their two leaders here in Orange County kneel, take a knee and listen to what the protesters had to say.”

Fox News reached out to Mina for comment on the vote and received a statement in which he stood by his recent actions as Sheriff.

"I was disappointed to learn that the union rescinded its endorsement late last night," he wrote ."I understand that these are tough times in law enforcement – we are all feeling vilified because of the intense spotlight on law enforcement misconduct. I value and respect our deputies and all of their hard work. They risk their lives every day, doing one of the most difficult and complex jobs in the world. And they are some of the best law enforcement has to offer.

"But I am the Sheriff of everyone in Orange County, and voters elected me to keep this community safe," Mina continued. "I am accountable to them – and I am also accountable to all members of this agency. The changes I have already instituted at the Sheriff’s Office might have been the impetus for the union’s decision to pull its endorsement by a vote of 50 members. If that’s the case, I accept that."

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He added, "I have made some difficult decisions and have levied harsh discipline for policy violations. I have terminated deputies for excessive force or for breaking the law. I will continue the work of finding common ground with members of our community who are pleading for change. But I want everyone at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to know that I am extremely proud of the work they do. My door is always open to them and I am willing to have any discussions, even difficult ones."