Gov. DeSantis appoints Keith Pearson to replace St. Lucie Sheriff after sudden retirement

Keith Pearson
Now-former St. Lucie Sheriff Ken Mascara retired abruptly after more than 2 decades in the role.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has named veteran cop Keith Pearson to take over the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office following the sudden retirement of longtime Sheriff Ken Mascara.

The appointment is effective at the close of business on Friday to “ensure law enforcement operations continue without delay,” the Governor’s Office said.

Pearson is a lieutenant with the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office with more than two decades of experience in law enforcement. Recognition earned during his career include a Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Department of Justice and “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” honors from the U.S. Southern District.

He holds an associate degree in criminal justice from Indian River State College, a press note from the Governor’s Office said.

DeSantis moved swiftly to replace Mascara, a Democrat who abruptly retired from a post he held since 2001. He most recently won re-election to a sixth consecutive four-year term in 2020 with 67% of the vote.

(L-R) Ken Mascara and Keith Pearson. Image via Facebook.

In a letter released to the public announcing his retirement, Mascara attributed the move to health reasons.

“It’s no secret I’ve been dealing with some health issues this past year. In fact, I am currently out of state seeking treatment. In my 23 years as Sheriff, this year was the first time I was unable to perform our mandatory physical agility test. I expect my deputies to perform at a certain level and I hold myself to the same standard. I’ve come to the sad realization that I cannot maintain that standard,” he wrote.

“The last thing I ever want to do is put our community, my fellow law enforcement officers or myself (in harm’s) way due to the fact I couldn’t react in a situation. With a rapidly developing scenario of medical procedures on the horizon, with heavy heart, I contacted our Governor and explained my dilemma.”

Mascara then thanked the community and wished Pearson well as he takes over.

“I’ve had the greatest honor in the world, working with the hardest working men and women of this Office, serving St. Lucie County as your Sheriff. I greatly appreciate this community which has supported me, encouraged me, embraced me, lifted me up in bad times, and celebrated with me in good times,” Mascara said.

“I know Sheriff Pearson will continue with selfless service to our community not only to protect life and property but to make St. Lucie County a great place to live, work, play, and visit. I will work with him for a smooth transition and whatever else he needs.”

The St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office serves more than 329,000 residents, according to the Florida Sheriffs Association.

Within an hour of the appointment, the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Police Athletic League — a nonprofit youth mentorship organization — congratulated Pearson.

“We know you will be as good for the citizens of this county and the deputies of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office as you are for our kids,” the group wrote on Facebook. “Thanks for being our #1 PAL, Sheriff Pearson.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


2 comments

  • My Take

    December 1, 2023 at 7:59 pm

    Ahh, solidarity among the short!

  • Del Boca Vista

    December 1, 2023 at 10:38 pm

    Does the little fella wear cowboy boots with lifts?

Comments are closed.


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