“The law implemented equally among all is the only thing that makes us truly equal.”
He brings to his candidacy a varied small business background including experience in the refinishing business, cabinets, cellulose insulation, structural steel fireproofing and real estate appraisal in Georgia. When the economy tanked, he came to Florida to help run Garcia Family Farms and also got involved in the family real estate developing business.
His family’s evolving plans for the McDaniel Ranch property made him take a look at what he really wanted to do. Realizing that he always had a heart for law enforcement, he put himself through the academy and, in 2010, came to work at HCSO as a road deputy.
“I absolutely loved it; it felt right,” he said, and serving the citizens was the best part. He calls law enforcement “God’s work” and always took solving citizens’ problems seriously, saying that every day he would pray to make Godly decisions.
Aspiring to the highest law enforcement office in the county, Mr. Garcia said his goal is to make the HCSO a more professional and transparent organization. One of the ways to do that, he said, is through more and better training, beginning with cultural diversity. Ensuring that all deputies are sensitive and responsive to the differences in cultures represented here will go a long way toward providing the right climate for good relations between law enforcement and residents. He also believes in CIT – Crisis Intervention Training – dealing with how to respond to situations involving those who suffer with mental illness.
He would rely on attracting seasoned professionals – retired, experienced officers to serve as consultants for a short time – to help him instill a culture of professionalism in the department, he said.
If elected he said he may move people around to more suitable positions within the department, but employees need not fear being fired, he said.
Another of Mr. Garcia’s plans for the SO is to create a community council consisting of two people from each community. The council would meet monthly with the sheriff and top officers to hear local issues, provide input and give a voice to each community and make law enforcement more responsive to the people.
Transparency is another important point for this candidate. He said the SO belongs to the people, and he wants to give it back as the “people’s sheriff.”
One way of expressing that would be to put its budget on the website every quarter in laymen’s terms, so the average resident can understand it.
He would also set up a third district – Central County – from Goodno to Flaghole using a deputy from the east side and one from the west side, plus a third one. As with all Constitutional officers, the sheriff’s salary is mandated by the state, but Mr. Garcia said he will accept only a deputy’s salary and donate the rest for a third Central County deputy.
Mr. Garcia said he is committed to returning to placing a School Resource Officer in each school in the county, not sharing officers between schools, which he says can create lags in response times.
Another of his commitments is to starting a Special Complaints Unit using Criminal Investigations Department (CID) and Narcotics officers to respond to particular community issues that regular patrol deputies often don’t have time to address on a daily basis.
It is important to build working relationships with other local agencies including Glades County Sheriff’s Office and Clewiston Police Department (CPD), the candidate believes, to boost successful law enforcement for residents in all areas. This would include working to coordinate radio band width with Clewiston Police Department.
He is also anxious to put on more dispatchers – who he calls a lifeline for deputies – and to increase dispatcher training, especially medical emergencies.
As a former road patrol deputy, Mr. Garcia feels he knows how to retain officers. At the same time, he said he would expect his officers to know their communities and come to work every day with a positive attitude. He said he believes in accountability for everyone and that all sheriff’s employees are members of one team.
Ricky Garcia said he would bring a professional business mentality to the sheriff’s office, working to control loss and to ensure that funding goes to the appropriate places. In fact, he feels his business experience is the most important skill he would bring to the office, along with a “heart” for the job.
Patty Brant, can be reached at email@example.com