The Sunshine State has become internationally notorious for the oddball miscreants who populate its police blotters and local news reports — known collectively as Florida Man. There are murders and mayhem, like anyplace else, and then there are the only-in-Florida incidents like the man charged with assault with a deadly weapon for throwing an alligator through a Wendy’s drive-thru window in Palm Beach County in 2015, the Associated Press reports. But an equally eccentric cast of hard-boiled sheriffs make a career of going after these guys. Florida Man, meet Florida Sheriff. All but one of Florida’s 67 counties have an elected sheriff, and they wield enormous influence in part because they’re often the only countywide elected official. They head agencies that typically patrol unincorporated portions of their county but also provide backup to city police departments and sometimes patrol small cities that lack their own force. Many hold made-for-YouTube news conferences and use TikTok and other social media — frequently going just as viral as the perpetrators.
On the Atlantic Coast, near Cape Canaveral, Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey makes a game of crime — literally. His weekly “ Wheel of Fugitive ” videos feature the sheriff spinning a wheel with photos of 10 of the county’s most wanted. “Everybody watches it. Even the fugitives watch it” to see who becomes “fugitive of the week,” Ivey said. The lucky winner of one recent episode was a 32-year-old white male accused of petit theft and failure to appear. The sheriff, first elected in 2012, looked into the camera as if speaking directly to the man and urged him to surrender: “Stop messing up and stop breaking the law. Get all of it behind you.” The Twitter account of Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco — who has starred in A&E Network’s “Live PD” show — made a splash with local “Sad Criminal of the Day” posts. His agency also copyrighted the now-viral hashtag, #9pmroutine, a reminder to lock car doors and homes every night.