County Commissioner Fred Hawkins suspended from office by Gov. DeSantis

Article Courtesy of  The Osceola News-Gazette

By Brian McBride

Published August 8, 2020


Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. has been suspended from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis for allegedly impersonating a law enforcement officer back in November.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement charged Hawkins, 53, of St. Cloud, with impersonating a law enforcement officer. He turned himself turned into the Osceola County Jail on July 20.

According to a July 31 executive order, DeSantis stated, “it is in the best interest of the residents of the Osceola County and the citizens of the state of Florida that Fred Wilber Hawkins be immediately suspended from the public office, which he now holds.”

He is prohibited from performing any official act, duty or function of public office, and cannot receive any pay or allowance during the suspension, the order stated.

Fred Hawkins, who is running for State House District 42, has been election to the County Commission twice since 2008.

According to an FDLE press release, on Nov. 7, 2019, Hawkins attempted to gain access to an election of the Turnberry Reserve Homeowner’s Association (HOA), of which he was not a member. The HOA had rented the library at the East Lake Elementary School.

As he approached a security guard at the door, he displayed a Sheriff’s Office badge, but the guard told him to step back.

Hawkins said, “I am a sheriff! I am with the Sheriff’s Office! You’re about to get arrested!” according to the FDLE report. Hawkins then pushed by the guard and entered the room.

Hawkins is a special deputy with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, an honorary title, but he does not have arrest powers, nor has he ever been certified as a law enforcement officer in the state of Florida, the press release stated. No one from the sheriff’s office requested him to take any action as a special deputy at the HOA election.

Hawkins was booked into the Osceola County Jail on $1,000 bond. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office, Ninth Judicial Circuit.

Christina Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Fred Hawkins for State House campaign, previously stated in a written statement:

“Commissioner Fred Hawkins did not impersonate an officer, as is charged and what will be proven is that he is innocent of the allegation. Through due process, what will be proven is the Commissioner was merely trying to gain access inside a meeting room where an HOA meeting was growing contentious and citizens getting unruly. Hawkins was attempting to reach a deputy in hopes of deescalating the situation when he was blocked by a private security guard who was already warned not to block the door. As an aside, Hawkins had requested that charges not be filed against the private security guard who was arrested for battery against him. Commissioner Hawkins has routinely cooperated with investigators in an open and honest fashion and will continue to do so in this next phase.”