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Chad Chronister officially in for second term as Hillsborough’s top cop

Chronsiter already has a mountain of support.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister officially filed for reelection Wednesday.

Joined by wife Nikki DeBartolo, Chronister filed documents with the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections office, making his reelection campaign official.

“I am humbled by the amazing support this community shows the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, and it is an honor to stand before you seeking reelection,” Chronister wrote in an announcement on Facebook.

“Together, over the last several years, we have built a safer community and a better Sheriff’s Office. Together we have achieved consecutive years of double digit decreases in crime and a better focus on community-based policing. Together we have built a fierce dedication to protecting our schools.”

Under Chronister, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has revamped its efforts to train deputies handling mental health-related incidents and has made mandatory what was formerly a voluntary 40-hour training for crisis intervention.

“As a political consultant I can tell you no candidate works harder than Sheriff Chronister. His honesty, work ethic and dedication make working the campaign much easier than it could be,” said political consultant Anthony Pedicini.

Chronister also implemented its own version of St. Pete’s “Park, Walk, Talk” program in which deputies ditch their cars for an hour a day to patrol communities by foot. The idea is to establish a positive presence in neighborhoods that restores trust in law enforcement that might have been eroded as more and more police brutality cases make it into the mainstream media.

Chronister has worked with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office since 1992. He was first appointed Sheriff in 2017 by then-Gov. Rick Scott. He won his first election in 2018. He faces reelection this year against former Tampa Police officer Gary Pruitt.

Chronister bested Pruit, by nearly 10 points in 2018 and has since shone as Hillsborough County’s top cop.

“The Sheriff’s Office has deployed more resources towards keeping our community safe, ensuring transparency, and building trust. Over the coming months we will be talking about these successes and our future plans for even greater public safety and accountability,” Chronister said.

“I promise the road forward for this great law enforcement agency will be beyond the reach of the petty partisan politics that has divided so many communities around this country.

Enforcing the law is about public safety not political party.”

Since taking office, Chronister has overseen some changes to the agency including increasing awareness, better preventing human trafficking and enforcing laws against it, expanding drug treatment programs and developing mental health treatment programs. Chronister has also overseen new vocational programs at the county jail.

Chronister has also been committed to hiring a diverse workforce. He achieved a 60% diversity rate in the agency’s hiring over the past two and a half years.

Chronister already has an outpouring of support. Boyz II Men, a popular R&B band from the 90s, performed at a campaign fundraiser last year. And in a show of bipartisan support for the Republican Sheriff, Democratic State Attorney Andrew Warren has already endorsed him.

Within an hour of posting his announcement, his Facebook post already had 50 comments in support of his work.

Chronister is also well on his way to building a strong war chest for his campaign. His committee, Friends of Chad Chronister, has raised more than $764,000 as of the end of January.

Pruitt, by contrast, has raised just $4,436 for his campaign.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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