KEY WEST — Newly elected Monroe County State Attorney Dennis Ward aims to see changes during his term, including staff changes.
Ward, a Republican who defeated Democrat Catherine Vogel during the November elections, has experience in the office. According to dennisward2016.com, he served as the county's state attorney from 2008-12. Ward had been in private practice the last four years.
As he once again takes control of the state attorney’s office, Ward intends to revamp the system.
“During my interactions with Catherine Vogel during the campaign, my biggest complaint was about the lack of leadership, training and supervision in the office,” Ward said in an article in the FL Keys News.
“We’re going to fix those problems and look at the senior management. There is going to change in some of the leadership positions,” he said.
While Ward has been open with his plans to implement changes aggressively in the office, he was not more specific about who he had in mind for the positions. He anticipated the possibility of seeing more people resign or vacate their posts even before he takes his office. Ward said this practice also occurred during his earlier tenure as state attorney.
“I’m really not going to get into personalities. Some people will decide they’re going to leave,” Ward said. “There may be more people who resign the day before I take office. That happened last time.”
Ward explained that his planned shakeup of the office is a result of the feedback from the Key West community. He said that even his decision to run was heavily influenced by the members of the public who expressed disappointments and frustrations over Vogel’s leadership.
“I want to take a look at the office and where we can make improvements,” he said. “One of the reasons I ran is because a number of law-enforcement officers, commercial fishermen and others asked me to run. We got into it, and here we are.”
Ward, who was born and raised in Miami, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970, according to his campaign website. After serving in Vietnam and following his discharge, he served as a police officer in the City of Miami Beach. He took on the roles of a patrol officer, motorcycle officer and street-crimes detective during his stint with the MBPD. His responsibilities also included handling cases of thefts, burglaries and frauds under the Criminal Investigation Unit. He also handed cases involving juveniles, missing persons and elderly when he worked on the Juvenile Unit.
His legal career includes a stint as an assistant state attorney in Plantation starting in 2002 and as a assistant public defender starting in 2005.
The four-year term for Ward began Jan. 3.