The Central Florida Police Benevolent Association has put its endorsement behind Rob Panepinto in the contest for Orange County mayor, his campaign announced Monday.

“The Central Florida Police Benevolent Association proudly announces its endorsement of Rob Panepinto for Orange County Mayor,” CFPBA President Jerry Hagan said in a news release issued by Panepinto’s mayoral campaign. “The CFPBA recognizes that law enforcement is just part of the overall Orange County services and cannot achieve its missions without the other facets of Orange County government. The CFPBA is confident that Rob Panepinto has the complete set of skills, vision and character to lead all of Orange County. We are certain that Rob Panepinto will guide all of Orange County to a higher level.”

The union has members in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department, and several suburban police departments, but is not the dominant labor organization, or the designated representative in contract negotiations for OCSO or Orlando Police. Local lodges of the Fraternal Order of Police have those distinctions.

Nonetheless, the CFPBA endorsement goes Panepinto’s way even though one of his chief rivals is Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who also is a former Orlando chief of police. Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke also is in the contest.

“I am incredibly honored to have the support of an organization that works so hard to represent our men and women in blue,” Panepinto said. “Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our families and as mayor, I will work to ensure they have the resources, training and funding they need to do their jobs safely.”

In an endorsement letter sent to Panepinto Friday, Hagan said the association will ask its members, their friends and families and “all citizens in Orange County who respect the strong and efficient enforcement of our laws, to cast their ballots in support of Rob Panepinto.”

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