Goodbye and Be Safe

Letters

BY BERNADETTE DIPINO SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY JAN 30, 2021

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, eight of those to the city of Sarasota. This message is to share with you effective 5 p.m. Friday, January 29, 2021, I will no longer be Chief of Police for the Sarasota Police Department. As your Chief of Police since December 31, 2012, we have worked together to accomplish incredible things. I am leaving feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride at what the Sarasota Police Department has been able to accomplish over the last eight years. 

Together in the eight years I have served as Chief, we have partnered to reduced crime in the city of Sarasota by 37.7%. Violent offenses are down 16.5% and property offenses are down 40.8%. We adopted a philosophy of community policing, implemented the Drug Market Initiative (DMI) to eliminate open-air drug markets, created a Homeless Outreach Team, and began the Turn Your Life Around (TYLA) diversion program. We have worked hard to build relationships and restore trust with our community.

I am proud to have hired more than 129 officers and increased diversity in our agency. I began a bi-annual community luncheon to meet with community leaders, business owners, and community service organizations to keep lines of communication open between us and our community. Since December 2012, we launched our Blue and You initiative, community movie nights, Shop with a Cop, Coffee with Cop, Pack the Patrol Car, and multiple boating and water safety events. We launched a bi-annual Citizens Police Academy and held several Use of Force community days. Before COVID-19, we partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to begin Club 5-0.

Our Body Worn Camera program is underway and expected to be launched this year along with a Restorative Justice Initiative for theft/shoplifting cases which has plans in the making to launch in 2021. We partnered with community leaders to create a Behavioral Health Response Team to have a program for high-need individuals and their families with behavioral health needs. A service that will focus on providing a system of care within our community for those who are in crisis with behavioral health needs. Our agency was honored with the IACP/Body Worn Leadership in Law Enforcement Volunteer Program Award, the IACP Leadership in Human and Civil Rights Award, the IACP Chief David Leadership in Environmental Crimes Award and we were chosen to be the Law Enforcement Agency of the Year from the Florida Bicycle Association in 2019.

Partnering with you all these last eight years, together we’ve kept the city of Sarasota a safe place to live, work, and play. We have accomplished so much. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our civilian and sworn staff. Thank you to Tom Barwin for selecting me and having faith in me to serve as your Chief of Police. Being a fourth-generation law enforcement officer, I am looking forward to the opportunity to continue to serve the law enforcement field in another capacity. I have made many friends and appreciate the support of our community. I believe I am leaving the Sarasota Police Department in good standing for the next chief. While this was a bittersweet decision, it’s been an honor and privilege to serve as your Chief of Police.

As many of you know I end letters and speeches with two words so I will say goodbye with be safe.

Bernadette DiPino was the Sarasota Chief of Police.

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