Sebastian Freedom Festival has political twist

For a Fourth of July parade, you can't beat Sebastian's Freedom Festival.

"We've lived here for 18 years and this is highlight of living in Sebastian. This is a small town celebrating the Fourth of July, love it," said one resident.

But in between the floats and the bands, it was hard to miss that the primaries are just 40 days away. And the biggest race is for the top cop in the county. An unofficial gauge of a candidate's support is how many people walk with them during the parade. And if that's any indication, both candidates for sheriff have plenty of backers.

Each candidate's supporters did their part to sway voters on a very hot day. Marchers with former captain Bill McMullen passed out fans. Sheriff Deryl Loar's team gave out water.

McMullen worked at the sheriff's office for nearly 30 years. He feels that the organization is not making the best use of its manpower. "Those resources aren't being used appropriately so we don't have 24/7 coverage in every patrol zone of Indian River County."

Sheriff Loar says deputy schedules are primed for optimal coverage.  "We place our manpower when our calls for service are highest then we deescalate when our calls for service are lowest. It's a business approach, it makes sense."

The sheriff did have the advantage of taking two trips down the parade route today. Once as the sheriff and the other as the candidate.

There have been a series of highs and lows in the sheriff's office over the past twelve months. Two men broke out of the county jail in the fall, triggering a multi-state manhunt.
But last month, the sheriff's office assisted in one of the largest pill mill busts.

"But we've had the continuity and the leadership to stand together through these terrible economic times," sheriff Loar said.

"I think it's important that we be proactive to prevent crime instead of reacting to take a report after you've been burglarized," said McMullen.

Under Florida law, McMullen had to resign to run against his boss, so he'll either become sheriff, or have to find a different employment path.

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