Sarasota Police Chief DiPino Resigns

Todays News


Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, the first woman to lead the city’s force, resigned abruptly on Wednesday. She will wrap up her service on Friday at 5 p.m.

“It’s been my privilege to serve as the Chief of Police for the City of Sarasota. I am proud of my 35 years of honorable service as a law enforcement officer,” DiPino said. “We have accomplished so much in the last eight years. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our civilian and sworn staff. Being a fourth-generation law enforcement officer, I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the law enforcement field in a another capacity. I have made many friends and developed so many positive relationships here in Sarasota, it will be hard to say goodbye.”

DiPino was hired in 2012 by former City Manager Tom Barwin, who just retired from his position not long after a city election generated significant turnover on the Sarasota City Commission. New City Manager Marlon Brown, the deputy city manager when DiPino was hired, accepted the chief’s resignation.

The significant shift came after the city received a complaint that DiPino had disparaged a homeless man. The complaint stated after the individual, known to police to have mental health issues, started singing at the officers at a public event, DiPino asked an officer if she could borrow a Taser.

News of DiPino’s resignation came two days after she sent a message to officers addressing the incident, which took place in November after a Sarasota Opera performance.

“After the performance was over I thanked the opera and as I was walking towards the building I looked at the officers and I saw on their faces and I knew what I was feeling, that this was just more disrespectful treatment during a year filled with some horrible things being said about Police,” she wrote. The taser comment, she said, was intended and taken as a joke by most around.

“Upon reflection I wish I would have just told the officers how sorry I was that they had to experience this type of disrespect,” she wrote. “For me this incident is a stark reminder that as the police chief and a leader I must use and choose my words carefully.”

She also stressed the reduction in crime rates in Sarasota during her tenure, statistics also quoted by Brown in a statement announcing the chief’s departure.

“Through her leadership and dedicated efforts with community policing she helped reduce crime by nearly 40% and strengthened trust between residents and officers through extensive community outreach initiatives from the Citizens Police Academy to Coffee with a Cop and family movie nights on the SPD lawn,” Brown said. “SPD has many initiatives ahead, including the implementation of body worn cameras, and I will immediately begin the process of appointing an interim chief of police.”

DiPino said she believed the department was in good standing for any incoming chief. “This has been a bittersweet decision, but I know the men and women of the Sarasota Police Department will continue to keep the City of Sarasota a safe place to live, work, and play,” she said.

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