JEFFERSON PARISH -- The man many considered the face of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office is preparing to run for the department's top spot.

For 30 years and hundreds of crime scenes, Col. John Fortunato was the deputy in front of the microphones, giving reporters the latest details.

Tuesday, Fortunato announced he is now stepping down after more than 40 years at the JPSO.

"This morning when I woke up, I realized that this day would come sooner or later in my life, a day that I would announce my retirement," Fortunato said.

If Fortunato gets his way, he won't be retired for long.

"When people asked me why I was retiring I said because it's something that I always wanted to do," Fortunato said. "I've always wanted to follow my dream and in turn I would announce that I'm going to run for sheriff in Jefferson Parish.

A handful of other familiar faces have also announced their intention to run for sheriff, namely Interim Sheriff Joe Lopinto.

Lopinto was endorsed by former Sheriff Newell Normand who stepped down this month to host a talk show on WWL radio.

Voters are expected to go to the polls in March to elect a new sheriff.

"My job is to do my job," Lopinto said. "To be sheriff from now until March 24. I believe if I do my job correctly and with the ability I know I can do, I believe the public will say we'd like him to stay in office."

Former JP President John Young said friends and supporters have asked him to run and he is giving it serious consideration.

Parish Chief Administrative Officer Keith Conley is also looking at the race.

"It's like coming home for me," Conley said. "I was there for 20 years as a deputy and a sergeant in the detective bureau. I went to law school and everything I've done has kind of given me the skill set to serve the people in that capacity."

Fortunato is expected to host a campaign launch rally at a later date.

"Today is a very bitter sweet day for me," Fortunato said. "Over 40 years ago, putting on one of those uniforms for the first time in my life was one of the proudest days in my life."

Fortunato said he informed Sheriff Lopinto of his plans on Monday evening. Lopinto wished Fortunato well on Tuesday.

"Public information officer is a demanding job and important to the operations of the JPSO. Johnny has served this department for many years and we're grateful. We wish him well," Lopinto said.