As new Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino read her oath of office, her mother Mildred DiPino wiped tears of joy from her eyes.
To the new police chief, her mother is a hero of hers.
"You're the reason why women are able to be successful in this world because of your strongness and you saying you can do it and your believing in me—I couldn't be here without your strength," DiPino told her mother.
DiPino was officially sworn in Friday afternoon at the Sarasota Police Department, though has been on the job since Dec. 31. She takes over for retired Police Chief Mikel Hollaway. Capt. Paul Sutton served as the interim police chief during the department's transition.
Also in attendance were the other DiPinos in blue, her father and other hero retired Maj. Charles DiPino of the Baltimore City Police Department and her daughter Tabitha Hayes, who is an officer with the Baltimore County Police Department, where her mother began her career.
DiPino is here to revamp the image of the Sarasota Police Department and implement a community policing model to crack down on violent crime.
"We are going to be implementing some new strategies in the police department," DiPino said. "And that includes community policing. I strongly believe in that development of relationships and partnerships of the citizens in our community. I can tell you, you have an outstanding police department in the Sarasota Police. They are amazing professionals."
Not only was the community seeking change, but the department itself wanted a fresh start.
"There was a resounding message from low post to high post and we are looking for leadership; we are looking for someone who can restore the lifeblood of this department," City Manager Tom Barwin said.
Barwin and city officials believe they have their woman.
DiPino spent 27 years in law enforcement and became a certified community policing instructor in 1995, training 1,000 officers in the community policing model. She was previously chief of the Ocean City, Md., Police Department and started out with the Baltimore County Police Department in 1985.
"We're going to continue to reduce crime, and show you our courtesy and respect," DiPino.
Police Chief Coverage
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- Police Chief Semifinalists Announced
- Meet The Police Chief Semifinalists
- Bernadette DiPino Becomes Sarasota's First Female Police Chief
- Capt. Sutton Appointed As Acting Sarasota Police Chief