‘Unfailing integrity’: Daniella Levine Cava endorses James Reyes for Miami-Dade Sheriff

James Reyes headshot
‘His leadership … has delivered proven results, built community trust, and kept our residents and families safe.’

Seventeen current and former law enforcement professionals are running for Miami-Dade Sheriff, but Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has a favorite.

Levine Cava is endorsing James Reyes, a longtime jail warden she appointed last year as the county’s Chief of Public Safety to oversee the Police, Corrections and Fire departments.

“I am proud to endorse Chief James Reyes for Miami-Dade County Sheriff because he believes deeply in public service and leads with unfailing integrity,” she said in a Thursday statement.

“His leadership … has delivered proven results, built community trust, and kept our residents and families safe. Growing up in Miami-Dade, James understands that the diversity of our community is our greatest asset and he knows firsthand why the freedoms we cherish in our country must always be protected.”

Levine Cava’s endorsement of Reyes, whom she hired to take over the county’s 4,000-inmate jail system in December 2022, is noteworthy because three other fellow Democrats are seeking the returning Sheriff post. One of them, John Barrow, is a Major in the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Republicans Jose Aragu, Jaspen Bishop, Rosie Cordero-Stutz, Orlando Lopez and Rolando Riera are also on the county police force payroll.

Reyes outranks them all. And Levine Cava outranks him, though that wouldn’t necessarily be the case if he wins this November.

Their campaigns also have many of the same people working on them.

In a statement, Reyes said he is “deeply honored” to win a nod from the Mayor.

“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve my hometown, and I am proud of the work we’ve done together to keep Miami-Dade safe,” he said. “This is our moment to build on the progress we’ve made — prioritizing community trust, investing in neighborhood-focused policing, and above all else, ensuring the safety of our residents and families.”

Born in Cuba, Reyes’ father was a political prisoner before their family fled to Miami-Dade. Reyes attended public school in the county, graduating from Hialeah High School before attending Barry University and the University of Cincinnati, where he respectively attained a bachelor’s degree in criminology and a master’s degree in criminal justice.

Before becoming Miami-Dade Public Safety Officer in November, Reyes led the county Corrections and Rehabilitation Department for about a year. Under his leadership, the Department — long under federal scrutiny — was recognized to be under “substantial compliance” with U.S. Department of Justice standards for the first time in more than a decade.

Reyes came to the role after more than 22 years with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO), according to his LinkedIn page.

He began his policing career with the BSO as a Deputy Sheriff in November 2000 and steadily rose through its ranks to serve for four years as its Executive Director and two years as Director.

During that time, a press release from his campaign said, he spearheaded Broward County’s first Real Time Crime Center and the first Research, Development and Training Center in Broward Sheriff’s Office history.

Miami-Dade hasn’t had an elected Sheriff since 1966, when county voters eliminated the position after a grand jury report revealed rampant corruption within the Department. Instead, the county has a Police Director, who is appointed by and reports to the Mayor.

But in 2018, 58% of Miami-Dade voters joined a statewide supermajority in approving a constitutional amendment requiring all 67 counties in Florida to have an elected Sheriff, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser and Clerk of Courts by early 2025.

The Primary Election is on Aug. 20, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5.

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.

One comment

  • If it were up to Miami-Dade, the amendment would have failed

    February 29, 2024 at 1:18 pm

    Of course if the rest of the state had done what Miami-Dade voters did and given the amendment only 58% support, the required supermajority would in fact not have been reached.

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