Please Note: The campaign represented by this page has been suspended, having not attained access to this year’s ballot. For more information on a current campaign, visit www.McLynas4sheriff.com. This is not an endorsement.
I’m Joshua Black, Republican candidate for Pinellas County Sheriff.
I grew up in Saint Louis, Mo., and moved here in the fall of 2007. My job experience is primarily in the customer service field, including time spent as a waiter, a courier, and a security guard. I have been a husband to Larissa since October of 2013. I am the father of two beautiful little girls.
I enter this race with some significant things that I want to change about law enforcement in Pinellas County.
First, I want the system to focus on the victims, rather than the system. Currently, law enforcement focuses most on offenses whose punishments bring in revenue. As a result, crimes that harm people are going unsolved. The purpose of law enforcement, when it was created, was not to enrich the government bodies by tracking down petty offenders but to enforce court orders related to justice and restitution. Lawmakers have definitely changed that over the years, but crime numbers have not improved.
Two types of offenses that have clogged our justice system when enforced are gun carrying offenses (not including crimes, in which people were harmed) and drug offenses.
Florida is a proud conceal carry state, but you can still find yourself on the wrong side of the law if you
- Open carry
- Carry without a permit
- Display your weapon, even if you have a permit, don’t draw, and don’t threaten
When our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment to the Constitution, open carry was the primary practice, and permits were not necessary. In fact, if you didn’t display your weapon, you could have been arrested for that! Only slaves were restricted in whether they could carry. Women were permitted to conceal their weapons, but a freeman without a weapon was considered either an irresponsible and unpatriotic slacker or a robber concealing his stash. How times have changed!
We need to reclaim the days in which parents taught their children how to use firearms. History tells us that schools had guns until the 1960s, when government had taken the responsibility from the parents (through the offer of “free” gun classes at the “free” public schools) and then ended gun classes altogether, right before perpetrating the very first school shooting at Kent State. Since then, we have had many more school shootings and gun scares, but hardly anyone recommends returning to the policies that prevented them before.
Speaking of policies that lived in the old days, it used to be that people put whatever they wanted in their own bodies, and, while family, friends, and neighbors could and did offer advice, no one went to jail for what they did. And most of the naturally occurring or easily derived drugs banned today were in wide use. Just look at the ingredients lists of old pharmacy bottles and home remedies.
Today, many of those items are on a “schedule” of the FDA that means that possession by ordinary people is punishable by a prison sentence. The Constitution doesn’t give Congress the power to write laws like that, but they did it anyway. Many times, they simply pay state and local law enforcement to enforce similar state statutes in return for federal funds. This is also not in the Constitution, but the Supreme Court doesn’t seem to be bothered by that.
Thirty years ago, someone in the federal Justice Department decided that locking up people for drug abuse and drug dealing wasn’t good enough. They began to file lawsuits against the property of the people they were putting away. Frequently, the value of the item in question was exceeded by the cost of the fight, so people let their property go. Some people were even acquitted later, but the courts said that they couldn’t get their property back.
This widely held opinion encouraged more brazen departments to simply seize items and cash without filing charges. They would maybe arrest somebody in connection with some crime, but then they would file lawsuits against properties that were used (frequently without the permission or knowledge of the owner) to commit the crimes. Sometimes, they wouldn’t even do that. And the Supreme Court said that it was okay. This wouldn’t be the last time that the courts failed to protect the rights of innocent people.
Recently, the federal government started selling a device to local law enforcement agencies called the Stingray. It’s a tracking device that fools your cell phone into thinking that it is a cell tower. Law enforcement uses it to track down people they don’t want to know they are coming. It’s a nice tool to have, but it is ripe for abuse.
A recent Tampa Bay Times story covering the practice said that at least one innocent man had been harassed by some Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputies recently, using that device to track him down and arrest him on charges they knew would not stick. (That man, James McLynas, is running his own campaign against the Sheriff. We have spoken privately, but we are not affiliated.) Also revealed in that story was the fact that the Sheriff never discloses to the courts when he intends to use the device, even though a plain reading of the Fourth Amendment requires him to and the Florida Constitution guarantees all inhabitants the right to privacy.
These, and other issues, are the status quo that I intend to change.
No one should be arrested for simply carrying a gun, whether on display or not. If anyone uses a firearm to harm or unjustly threaten someone, that person should be punished, but not innocent people.
No one should be arrested for using drugs that the FDA doesn’t like. In fact, drug abuse should not be allowed as an excuse to get a lighter sentence for harming another individual or their property. Restitution should be required regardless of the sobriety of the offender (unless death is the result, then the death penalty should apply).
No one should be subjected to tracking devices without their knowledge without a warrant that explicitly declares that such tracking devices are to be used and why ordinary methods of catching criminals are not sufficient. The point is to prevent harassment by the powers that be. That’s the whole point of the Fourth Amendment.
In addition, we should make restitution to the victims our primary concern. The Sheriff’s Department is funded by taxes. It doesn’t need the additional money from asset forfeiture to accomplish its daily functions.
The courts have proven that they are not the best safeguards of our liberties as Americans. Truth be told our sheriff actually has the power to stop all of these practices. Instead, he has embraced them and even vehemently defended them. More information is on the second page of this web site.
Go there now.
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Joshua Black, Republican, for Pinellas County Sheriff.