Florida Politics: James Reyes, Miami-Dade public safety chief, jumps into crowded race for county Sheriff

A high-level Miami-Dade official is the latest candidate to enter the crowded race to become the county’s first Sheriff in more than half a century.

Miami-Dade Chief of Public Safety James Reyes — who oversees the county’s Police, Corrections and Fire Rescue departments — filed to become the 16th active candidate for Sheriff.

The 23-year law enforcement veteran also released a video announcing his candidacy, summarizing his career and laying out his vision for the returning Sheriff’s Office.

“I learned early on that duty, service and community were not just words — they embody our values,” Reyes said in a statement. “I am humbled to serve the community that gave me, a kid who fled the dangers of communism, a true shot at the American dream. And it’s with a great sense of duty, service and pride in our community that I announce I am running to serve as your elected Sheriff.”

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.

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