Sarasota News Leader

11/16/2012

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Sarasota News Leader November 16, 2012 "We've been certified for a while for more judges by the state," Chairwoman Christine Robinson said, "and we haven't been able to get them." State officials have cited fiscal restraints since the onset of the Recession as the primary cause. OPERATION RESULTS Regarding metal thefts, Knight pointed out that since the County Commission approved an ordinance last year to assist law enforce- ment officers in arresting individuals trying to sell stolen goods to second-hand dealers, most of the known repeat offenders had dis- appeared from the county. Likewise, he said, thefts of copper had de- clined considerably. He reminded the com- missioners of one case in which the county had reported about 17 miles of copper cable stolen, with a value of about $500,000. That occurred before the ordinance went into ef- fect. Another effort, Operation Diamondback, had targeted criminals taking stolen goods to pawnshops, Knight pointed out. Again, thanks to a new county ordinance, Sheriff's Office deputies have been working to educate pawn- shop owners about what they should be on the lookout for and how to keep the records mandated by the ordinance, to assist in the recovery of stolen goods. The county's pain clinic ordinance also has been a big help, Knight said, pointing out that deaths from overdoses on Oxycodone and similar drugs are "down significantly." With illegal prescriptions for those medica- tions harder to obtain, he added, his officers Page 42 are seeing some heroin use in the county. "But it's a product we can deal with much easier because it's totally illegal," he pointed out. Working with the Department of Juvenile Jus- tice, Knight said, his office has been keeping a better check on juvenile offenders, especially in regard to their adhering to curfews. Operation Bueller, a truancy program that be- gan with the opening of the current school year, has deputies checking on students who miss a lot of classroom days, Knight said. Maj. Kevin Kenney told the commissioners that within the first 30 days after that program went into effect, more than 80 students had missed at least a third of the time they should have been in school. "We feel it's important that those kids are in school," Kenney said. "It's something we are focusing on diligently this year." "It's been very well received at the schools," Knight added. Yet another operation focused on prolific of- fenders in north Sarasota County, Knight ex- plained. The Sheriff's Office worked with the Sarasota Police Department on that initiative last year, he noted. In one month alone, Knight said, 108 people were arrested. Knight and Kenney both praised the commis- sion for the help it had provided the Sheriff's Office. "It's not all us," Kenney said, adding that the commissioners deserved most of the credit. "Those ordinances have played a huge part in our [crime] reductions." %

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