Mario Knapp overwhelmingly wins Hispanic police union endorsement for Miami-Dade Sheriff
After a 27-year career with the Miami-Dade Police Department that saw him lead many units and operations, Mario Knapp says he's well-suited to the returning county Sheriff job. Image via Mario Knapp.

Mario Knapp SS
It wasn’t even close.

Retired Miami-Dade Police Major Mario Knapp’s bid to be Miami-Dade’s first elected Sheriff of the 21st Century has earned the backing of the Hispanic Police Officers Association (HPOA).

The local nonprofit tallied ballots last week from a vote members held to determine whom it would officially support in this year’s Sheriff’s race. Twelve candidates who participated in an HPOA Sheriff’s candidate town hall last month were considered.

The result: Knapp took 66 of 150 ballots tallied — more than the combined totals of his two closest competitors and over twice what the runner-up received.

In a statement Tuesday, Knapp thanked the HPOA and its members “for their confidence and support,” particularly HPOA President Carlos Aguelles and the group’s board.

“By choosing to let the membership have a voice in the organization’s endorsement, they have set a commendable standard for transparency and democracy within our law enforcement community,” he said. “This endorsement is not just a victory for our campaign; it’s a testament to the collective desire for a safer community and the shared vision we hold for the future of public safety in our region.”

A 27-year veteran of the Miami-Dade Police Department who in 2021 led post-incident operations after the Surfside condo collapse, Knapp, a Republican, is one of 17 candidates actively running to be the county’s first Sheriff since 1966.

Aside from Knapp’s 66 votes (or 44%), the tally broke down as such:

— Miami-Dade Assistant Police Director Rosie Cordero-Stutz, Republican: 29.

— Former police union President and Miami-Dade Police Sgt. John Rivera, Republican: 23.

— Miami-Dade Police Major Jose Aragu, Republican: 10.

— Lawyer and former police officer Iggy Alvarez, Republican: 8.

— Retired Miami-Dade Police officer Ernie Rodriguez, Republican: 6.

— Miami-Dade Police officer Rolando Riera, Republican: 4.

— Miami-Dade Police Major John Barrow, Democrat: 2.

— Miami-Dade Police Sgt. Orly Lopez, Republican: 2.

— Miami-Dade Police officer Jaspen Bishop, Republican: 0.

— Retired Miami-Dade Police Reserve officer Alex Fornet, Republican: 0.

— Former federal agent Susan Khoury, Democrat: 0.

Of five others running for Sheriff, three are Republican: Miami City Police officer Ruamen DelaRua, former Miami Police Department hostage negotiator Jeffery Giordano and Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez, whose campaign said he was not invited to participate in the town hall despite his fundraising lead over all other candidates.

Miami-Dade Public Safety Chief James Reyes and former Miami-Dade Police Lt. Rickey Mitchell — both Democrats — are also in the race. Reyes received an endorsement last week from Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava that Barrow criticized as “inappropriate and disrespectful to voters.”

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.


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