In recognition of National Police Week and the upcoming 2024 election cycle, we sat down with Major Craig Latimer, who retired from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, to recognize the work of law enforcement officers and the sacrifices they make, including their contribution to keeping our elections safe and secure.
Can you describe your current or past role in law enforcement?
I spent 35 years in law enforcement, retiring as a Major with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. I began as a crime scene investigator, worked undercover for a time, and then spent most of my career in the homicide investigation arena, where I helped solve some high-profile serial murder cases among other things. I also led the transition of child protection investigations from the Department of Children and Families to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
With respect to your law enforcement experience and role as a member of CSSE, why do you think it is important that our elections are free, fair, and secure?
As citizens, we have the right and the responsibility to elect our leaders. Ensuring that we have free, fair, and secure elections is a critical and humbling responsibility that is foundational to our democratic government.
You have also served as an election official, how does your law enforcement experience inform or influence that work?
I have been the Supervisor of Elections in Hillsborough County since 2013, and I am incredibly honored to serve my community in this role. Having served in law enforcement, I came to my role in elections with a deep-rooted respect for the rule of law. As Supervisor of Elections, we have extensive and detailed laws that establish how to conduct elections in Florida. And, over the years in which I’ve done this work, there has been a near-constant drumbeat asking for assurances that voting in our county is both accessible and secure. I am committed to doing everything within the law to ensure that is the case.
The common thread between my law enforcement experience and my election experience are the values that guide me. Then and now, I have some basic but meaningful expectations for those who work for me: Follow the law, do the right thing, and provide great customer service.
What value have you observed in partnerships between law enforcement and election officials? Feel free to share an example of how you have worked with election officials in your role in law enforcement.
As former law enforcement myself, I know that there are certain laws specific to elections that a law enforcement officer doesn’t encounter every day. So it’s important that they have an awareness of those during election cycles. In addition to that, for voting to be accessible, it’s critically important that election workers and voters feel safe at our offices and polling places. For every election, I have local law enforcement officers at our central office so that they can assess and address real or perceived threats, and so that we have clear and direct communication during busy voting days.
Can you share some of your proudest accomplishments in your law enforcement experience where you feel you supported and advanced democracy?
In my career in law enforcement, I can reflect back on big moments and small ones that make me proud of the work I did, but I’m most proud that I went to work every day with the intention of playing a role in keeping my community safe. I worked alongside others doing the same thing. That work is essential to all of the freedoms that we are so fortunate to have here in our country.
Do you have any other thoughts that you would like to share about National Police Week?
I want to express my appreciation to those working to keep our communities safe every day so that we can enjoy our many freedoms — including the freedom to elect our leaders.
Learn more about the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections here.