Sarasota News Leader

06/21/2013

Issue link: http://newsleader.uberflip.com/i/138828

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 59 of 87

Sarasota News Leader June 21, 2013 OPINION unnecessary danger for city police, sheriff's deputies and the citizens both mean to protect. Knight has indicated his officers are more likely to receive a call for assistance "when bad things happen." Yet his officers are entering unfamiliar territory with no real awareness of the participants. When Knight first took office, he implemented his "Intelligence2Action" — or I2A — initiative, a program designed to maximize the Sheriff's Office's awareness of essential background information that seemed germane to most crimes. And it has worked, as crime in the county has fallen to the lowest level in the state for counties with populations in excess of 100,000. When deputies respond to calls in the city, however, they lack that important intelligence, a deficiency that places them at greater risk of injury or death at the hands of violent criminals, and the situation puts innocent civilians at similar risk. The buzzword in the SPD, meanwhile, is "community policing." Indeed, Chief Bernadette DiPino was hired in part for her experience with this concept. However, given Knight's concerns about his officers most frequently being called into specific areas of the city, one cannot help but wonder if the new chief's concept of community policing is "the community south of Fruitville Road." Page 60 vided a blunt assessment of the economic ills that plague the city, principal among those being the cost of maintaining the SPD. "The cost of the Police Department is going to ultimately bankrupt our city if we don't manage it differently," he told his fellow commissioners in his final remarks at the dais. Turner cited problems with the police union as the single greatest obstacle to proper management of the department, pointing out contractual rules that impact everything from hiring and firing to training and promotions. Certainly, the Sarasota Police Department should be as capable as the Sheriff's Office in handling the law enforcement needs of its jurisdiction, if not more so. As of this week, SPD had 169 sworn officers enforcing the peace in a 14.66-square-mile area that is home to 52,811 residents. That works out to more than three officers per 1,000 residents and more than 11 officers per square mile of city terrain. The Sheriff's Office has 388 sworn officers, but they cover 555.87 square miles and protect a population of more than 386,000 residents. There is barely one deputy per 1,000 residents, and each deputy has responsibility for an average 1.43 square miles of county terrain. The city has three times the force per thousand residents and more than 16 times the When he took leave of the City Commission force per square mile of jurisdictional area. last month, Commissioner Terry Turner pro- Yet, despite this clear superiority in force, the

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Sarasota News Leader - 06/21/2013