Updated: Mar 2, 2021
Updated March 2, 2021: According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Mike Hargreaves does not hold the law enforcement certification required by Florida's Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission for all law enforcement officers in sworn positions. In Florida, officers are not certified until they are hired into sworn positions and the agency then applies for their certification from CJSTC. FDLE says they have "no record" of the Orange County Sheriff's Office, or any other law enforcement agency in the state, applying for Hargreaves' certification.
In addition, VoxPopuli finally heard from Mike Hargreaves through his attorney, Scharome R. Wolfe P.A., who wrote us a letter on February 26, 2021, denying that Hargreaves had described himself as a sheriff's deputy:
"The only known location of a reference to Mr. Hargreaves being a deputy was published by Daniel [sic] Hendrix of the Orange Observer [sic] and it was made by them in error. A retraction has since been issued. See note below:
“** Note: An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly Hargreaves' position with the Orange County Sheriff's office as a sheriff's deputy. Hargreaves' biography on his company website states that he served as an Orange County law- enforcement officer for five years.”
Except that as of March 2, 2021, Hargreaves' website still states that he "served as a law enforcement officer for the Orange County Sheriff's Office for five years." And FDLE confirmed to VoxPopuli that Hargreaves is not a certified law enforcement officer for any law enforcement agency anywhere in the state of Florida.
As president and owner of the private security firm PCI Security, Inc., Mike Hargreaves built his — and his company’s — reputation on being a law enforcement officer, specifically an Orange County sheriff’s deputy. His experience as a sheriff's deputy is also a pillar of his campaign for Windermere Town Council. The problem is: it’s not true.
Calls and emails to Hargreaves seeking comment were not returned.
Hargreaves states in his bio on his company website that he “served as a law enforcement officer for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for five years.’
That’s also what he told the West Orange Times Observer when he filled out the candidate questionnaire sent to all candidates running in the March 9 election. Under the “Relevant Experience” section, Hargreaves wrote: “former Orange County sheriff’s deputy.”
VoxPopuli checked with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. According to Human Resources director Kristin Reyes, Mike Hargreaves was hired to work in the sheriff’s office on Dec., 12, 1994, as a civilian court officer — not a deputy.
The title of the job has since changed to civilian service officer, but the job remains “strictly a civilian position,” says spokesperson Christian Marrero, a corporal in the sheriff’s office. Employees in this position do not carry firearms.
“‘Civilian’ is right there in the title,” Marrero said. “You work for a law enforcement agency, but this is not a law enforcement position.”
Regarding Hargreaves’s employment specifically with the sheriff’s office, Marrero emphasized “that the position he [Hargreaves] held was a civilian position, and he was not a sworn Deputy Sheriff for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.”
The sheriff’s office “terminated’ Hargreaves’ employment April 10, 1998.