Kevin Beary

He served 16 years as Orange County sheriff. Beary, 51, lives in Apopka.


Kevin Beary with his youngest, Elizabeth, 11, who plays softball

My dad always told me, ‘Son, go out with your boots on and go out on top.’ And I think that was very good advice. After the last election [in 2004], my wife, Rebekah, and I said we would not do a fifth term.

I don’t miss the day-to-day headaches and I surely don’t miss the pressure. My blood pressure dropped 10 points when I left. I’ll tell you the one thing I do miss: the police car. I was one of those sheriffs who got involved if I saw something go down.

I came from the streets. And I still worked the streets all those 16 years as sheriff.

The sheriff’s office got an 86 percent approval rating from county residents after the 2004 hurricanes. But you didn’t read about that in the Orlando Sentinel.
My dad was the police chief in Eden, New York, and my mom was the dispatcher, and the Motorola bread box-looking radio, the black box, sat on our dining room table. Mom dispatched the calls and our home phone was the Eden Police Department. My dad’s “Andy Griffith” job in Eden was the cornerstone of my career. You can run a large agency with a small-town family atmosphere. That is what community policing is all about.

Three of my four children wear the number 8 on their sports jerseys. My son Johnathon [a football and baseball player at Apopka High School] says we all need to wear a number that never ends. 

I would like to say I’m always a cop first, but I know how to be a politician, too. 

We never bought ‘elephant guns.’ We took some old M-16s and refitted new barrels and receivers on them, and the Sentinel decided to run an incredible story that made fun out of the sheriff’s office. Total bogus story. The only reason they did it is because they don’t like me.

Right now, I’ve got an opportunity to teach at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, or to run a counterterrorism program in Kabul, Afghanistan, with DynCorp [a private contractor]. I’m hoping to know something by March 1. Both are an opportunity of a lifetime. 

I’m an Irish guy. I’m going to show my emotions. And I did. My childhood hero was [General] George Patton. If George Patton could cry over his wounded and dying troops, then Kevin Beary can do it as sheriff. If some people don’t like that, they can kiss my Irish fanny.

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