One year ago, I attended the funeral of Fort Myers Police Officer Andrew Widman. As I met with his courageous widow Susanna and her three young children, I reflected on what had been taken away from this family. I knew that his children would have to grow up without their father, and she would have to raise them without the good and honorable man she married. It was so clear – we could do more…..we HAD to do more.
You see, Officer Widman’s death could have been prevented by simply using the latest computer technology. He was killed by a man who had a warrant out for his arrest in a neighboring county. When he was arrested in Fort Myers and appeared in court, the judge released him because County Courts currently lack the software necessary to share that kind of information. If the judge in Fort Myers had been alerted to the outstanding warrant in the neighboring county, the criminal would have never been released, and Officer Widman would still be alive.
Local sheriffs and police chiefs all over Florida are doing everything they can, given the limited resources they have, to protect our citizens. But we can do more—we must do more. We need a comprehensive statewide plan of attack to stay ahead in the fight against crime in the state.
Law enforcement agencies in some parts of our state have more resources than others. But your level of safety, and your level of justice, should not be determined by geography. Whether you live in Gretna or Gainesville, Port Charlotte or Port St. Joe, Miami Beach or Pensacola Beach – you have every right to expect the same degree of justice. Equal justice for all isn’t just a slogan – it is the guiding principle of American society.
The State of Florida has an obligation to coordinate and lead the fight against crime in all our communities – and to ensure justice for every Floridian. It is with this belief that today I announce my candidacy for Attorney General. I do so in full recognition of the challenges ahead — and the many responsibilities that come with the office.
To lead the fight against crime, and ensure equal justice, we must start by using cutting-edge technology – not only to catch those who would do harm to our citizens, but also to successfully prosecute those criminals. The message should be loud and clear in Florida: If you harm one of our children, if you harm one of our senior citizens, if you harm ANY citizen or visitor in this state….you will be caught, you will be prosecuted, and you Will Pay The Price.
We must use 21st Century technology to catch those preying on our children, to catch those who transport drugs into our state…to identify and smash the gangs that have become the -“organized crime” of our time…to stop those who would steal the life savings of our seniors… and even to catch public officials who violate the public trust. With the help of new technology, we can send a loud and clear message to criminals: You can run, but you can’t hide.
As Lieutenant Governor, I’ve criss-crossed this state and I have looked into the eyes of innocent Floridians who have suffered at the hands of vile thugs. When I am Attorney General, I will make sure these criminals pay for their evil deeds.
These are challenging times for the families of Florida. At the very least, the people of this state should be able to go to sleep each night knowing they are safe in their homes and communities. I will make it my personal mission as Attorney General to provide that certainty to the citizens of our great state.
God bless each and every one of you – and God bless the great State of Florida.