Tough-Talking Sheriffs Put Some Residents on Edge in Trump Era

November 13, 2017

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — Sheriff Wayne Ivey was so anxious on election night last year that he secluded himself in his house and hooked up his iPad to a projection screen showing the electoral map.

When a state was called for Donald Trump, Ivey shouted with relief. And by the end of the night, it had all sunk in: Voters not only elected Trump, they also had endorsed Ivey’s own brash, politically incorrect brand of conservative politics.

“He doesn’t back down,” said Ivey, the sheriff for Brevard County, home to Cape Canaveral and middle-class beach destinations along Florida’s east coast. “He is not afraid to take a stance, and that is what we need right now.”

With his red “Make America Great” hat now prominently displayed in his office here in Titusville, Ivey is part of a wave of county sheriffs who feel emboldened by President Trump and his agenda, becoming vocal foot soldiers in the nation’s testy political and culture wars.

From deep-blue states such as Massachusetts and New York to traditionally conservative strongholds in the South and the Midwest, locally elected sheriffs have emerged as some of the president’s biggest defenders. They echo Trump’s narrative on everything from serious policy debates such as immigration to fleeting political dust-ups with NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

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