Daytona Beach, FL - Now that Volusia County's Sheriff got what he wanted on Election Night, how will the county's largest law enforcement agency run moving forward?
That's the big question after 63% of Floridians - and 53% of Volusia residents - signed off on Amendment 10, also known as the Protection Amendment. Among other things, the amendment allows Volusia's sheriff and the others in Florida who work in charter counties more autonomy from its respective county governments.
Speaking the day after the election on WNDB's Marc Bernier Show, Mike Chitwood says his agency and Volusia County will have to figure the details out by 2020, but he admits it might get a little bumpy considering that the county's legal department joined other "home rule" counties across the state earlier this year in an unsuccessful legal challenge to get Amendment 10 off the ballot.
"I ought to thank all the Volusia County voters that supported us," Chitwood added. "It refutes the argument that nobody in Volusia County wants this because, clearly, over 200,000 people voted on that amendment issue and we're going to see some change."
Chitwood plans to get legal advice from the Florida Sheriffs Association as the process moves along, but the first step, he says, belongs to the county.
"The county has to impanel a Charter Review Commission," Chitwood stated. "There's certain parts of the Charter that are going to have to be repealed."
The Sheriff also dismissed "rumors and fearmongering" that the passage of Amendment 10 would cost the county millions of dollars, saying the true costs will ultimately be decided during the negotiation process. He feels it could be very similar to how it works in Flagler County where the Sheriff's Office and the county reach yearly agreements on all kinds of matters related to the department's operations.
"It'll cost as much as the county wants it to cost," Chitwood noted. "If they see this as an opportunity to restructure and streamline government, this is a win-win for everybody involved. But if they continue with their mean, nasty, lack of innovation and creativity, then it's going to create a problem."
Among areas Chitwood cited as potential places to cut is the Department of Public Safety, which Chitwood calls redundant because that's what his office is empowered to do by the County Charter.
"If the county wants to, they can make this a very easy process and everyone can get to work," Chitwood noted.
Having said that, his concern is that Volusia County - especially Attorney Dan Eckert - will try to impede this every step of the way, but Chitwood feels confident things will work out in the end.
"At the end of the day, this is a Constitutional amendment and it has to be followed," Chitwood said.