DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Daytona Police Chief Michael Chitwood was surrounded by friends, city leaders and supporters as he made his big announcement at the Yvonne Scarlett Golden Cultural Center that he would be running for Volusia County Sheriff. "I may be late to the pool party, but I 'm ready to jump into this race and make a big splash!" he said.
In January Sheriff Ben Johnson announced he will retire at the end of this year after 16 years of serving as sheriff. "It's been a great run at a job I absolutely love," he said during that announcement, "but there comes a time when all things must end." Sheriff Johnson endorsed Deputy Sheriff Eric Dietrich. Six others have thrown their hats in the ring, including Captain Dave Brannon, who has the support of the Volusia County deputies.
Chief Chitwood said he was encouraged by the community and even the Daytona Beach mayor to make this move. "I called him up when the sheriff said he was resigning, and I told him, 'You should run!'" said Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry. "What he's done for our community, I know he could do for the county."
Chitwood already has several ideas on how he would run the county Sheriff's Office. "Open the doors and windows to the Sheriff's Office, quick response times, increase technology, community partnerships and double down the investment." Chitwood also said he would implement a way to track crimes from city to city, and he wants a real time crime center to help deputies on the road.
Chitwood said, for now, he will remain police chief but will campaign after hours, or by using vacation days. "This is who I am. People know that, they know how hard I work and what I stand for. I'm at peace. I think this is the right move."