Sarasota Sheriff vs. Police Chief: What's Your Take?

What do you think of the recent law enforcement spat over crime in Sarasota?

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight. Credit: Sarasota County Sheriff's Office
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight. Credit: Sarasota County Sheriff's Office
An apparent rift between the Sarasota County Sheriff and the city's police chief over crimefighting tactics seems to be over for now, but that doesn't mean the conversation has ended.

Sheriff Tom Knight publicly aired his frustrations with the police department at a June 18 Sarasota County Commission budget meeting, arguing police aren't doing enough to keep the city safe, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. Knight said his department's resources are being sapped as he is forced to send more deputies to fight crime in North Sarasota.

The Sheriff did not call out Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino by name, and the two made a show of piece last week, the Herald-Tribune reports, following a private meeting.

Still, questions linger about law enforcement funding, crime in Sarasota and how the two departments might work together going forward.

One Sarasota Patch reader recently posted to our boards "What's up with the cops?" and asked neighbors to chime in with their take on the controversy.

So what do you think? Post a comment below and join in the conversation.
Tommaso Vincenzo Gambino July 07, 2013 at 08:23 AM
Doesnt matter which Dept does better with crime because our Sarasota Judges will only slap them on the wrist and let them free to commint a few dozen more crimes. Our Judicial system in Sarasota SUX big time
Hugo Mazzoli July 07, 2013 at 08:54 AM
Sheriff on target Better policing is certainly part of the N Trail crime solution, but violators need jail time and some an opportunity for rehab. A 2006 Herald editorial entitled "A Trail of Ill Repute” discussed the North Trail and proposed legislation which would have modified sentencing guidelines for repeat offenders. It was endorsed by some 20 statewide groups including several Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, FOP, FPBA, Manasota League of Cities, and others. The editorial also highlighted rehab as part of a total approach in dealing with North Trail issues. In 2006 the Senate president would not allow the bill to be brought to the floor for a vote and n 2007 House sponsorship was absent. Some of the 2006 Editorial highlights still apply today as some "fixes" while well intentioned, serve only to quiet outrage. Costly cameras push crime deeper into residential areas, and stings are costly in terms of manpower and have a short lived result. " ...police have arrested 111 prostitutes and customers since January 2005. "... Manatee deputies made 116 arrests...this (2006) year." "... public officials and civic leaders...pointing to prostitution as a common link connecting drug dealing, burglaries and other crime plaguing the street. And it is a chronic problem on multiple stretches of the Trail. " What is needed is a serious, non-political action plan with short/long term objectives, potential funding sources identified, deliverables and milestones. Thus far, focus on been on physical design overlays which might, at best, only relocate crime. The area needs to be transformed to complement and collaborate with the great institutions that make the Trail their home and spark investor and developer interest. This is the venue travelers utilizing our fabulous airport are exposed to and we expect it to attract businesses and increased airport activity in its current condition? What a unique venue from which to start a re-birth of the area! And the residents. Let's not forget them in this mix as they have been living and suffering with inaction.
Richard M. Swier July 07, 2013 at 09:02 AM
Florida exceeds national average in: rapes, robberies, assaults, thefts and burglaries. Perhaps our law enforcement officials should stop fighting one another and fight crime instead? Read this: http://watchdogwire.com/florida/2013/07/08/florida-exceeds-national-average-in-rapes-robberies-assaults-thefts-and-burglaries/
Kathryn Baker July 07, 2013 at 09:59 AM
There must be a reason why the Sheriff is frustrated. I don't think this is going to resolve itself. The Chief of Police and the Sheriff need to get together and work at resolving the issues that prompted the controversy.
Bob Merila July 07, 2013 at 11:16 AM
Tooo many chiefs...not enough Indians . Combine all the departments in Sarasota County and name it "The Sarasota County Police Department" Dump the "Good Ole Boy System" Get em' all on the same page. Divide the county into zones then precincts, lastly sectors. There is way too much "duplication of services" here. Cut the fat, start at the top. All this being said....the men and women in the sector cars do a great job, they just need better organization.
Galway July 07, 2013 at 11:31 AM
The "controversy" was started by the Sheriff who should apologize for blind-siding his new City of SRQ counterpart at a public official forum. And he should have shown evidence of his claims, but didn't. After all, good police work requires showing proof, right? Both departments should work together to make this community safer.
Throw them off the bench July 07, 2013 at 12:24 PM
I see an active sheriff's office and a police force that's always trying to catch up.... just look at the reported crimes in the Patch. I do agree that the judiciary is a major source of the problem....lock them up!
Anne G. Arsenault July 07, 2013 at 01:47 PM
I suspect that the Sheriff has never dealt with a female Chief of Police and is ignorant of how to treat her - with respect as you would treat any professional in law enforcement. She may have to take extra steps with him as many women have to do to get the respect they deserve. But he needs her to work with him.
John H Cisler July 07, 2013 at 03:50 PM
It is way past time to meld the city with the county sheriffs dept.many city police officers live in the county as it is, and the fire depts melded together a few years ago and response time has worked out just fine. Both the city and sheriff dept. have great law enforcement people, some bad apples along the way have caused problems and embarrassed both dept"s and the personnel who are dedicated workers to see that we are protected from the criminal elements among us. A thumbs up to them all.
roger barkin July 07, 2013 at 04:14 PM
Every comment so far has made very good points. The most cost effective solution for our city is to get more "feet on the ground" on the NT. By making it extremely desirable for developers and businesses to come to the NT, the presence of pedestrians, tourists and shoppers will create an environment that will discourage crime on the Trail at a reasonably low cost to the tax payers. That will drive the criminals away from the Trail, but not solve the problem of crime here. Long prison terms for repeat offenders, rehab, job training, hard work to cover some of the county's costs and no country club conditions will be needed. Additionally, prevention and intervention programs need to be expanded. AND, oh no ! , that dirty word, responsibility. Religious institutions need to get even more involved. Children need to be allowed to be children without drugs, violence or crime shoved in their faces. Once they are adults, it is too late to turn them back to capture a decent childhood. Stop the theft of innocence. Help save the future of our city at the same time.
Charlesworth Longtooth III July 08, 2013 at 02:48 AM
I thought there were lines of jurisdiction drawn up for the different areas. Is the Sheriff implying that SPD isn't doing their fair share? The motels need to be shut down. Shut down the motels, and the hoes will follow. Either that or get rid of the drug trade, but lord knows that isn't happening. Most of the girls turn tricks to get drugs. I have an idea, lets put up some prostitution cameras and mail them tickets, that will fix it.


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