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LIGHTEN UP A LITTLE A consultant with a national organization says the County Commission Sarasota County has become too restrictive in employee use of purchase cards — Rachel Brown Hackney A representative of the National Institute of Government Purchasing Inc. (NIGP) this week commended the progress Sarasota County government has made to implement better standards and practices in its Procurement Department, but he also told the County Commission some of the county's self-imposed restrictions following a 2011 scandal in that department were excessive. Louis Moore, lead consultant for the NIGP's review of measures the county has taken to improve procurement practices in the wake of that scandal, said on Jan. 30 that he and his team "see some definite productivity problems" with the restrictions on employees' use of county credit cards, or P-cards. During discussions in late November with about 40 employees in the county's Procurement Department and its business units, he said he and his fellow NIGP consulting team members heard one story about an employee who had to make a 20-minute round trip to get a fuse, instead of being able — as would have been the procedure in the past — to use a P-card to buy one at a nearby store. (Full story here) REBUILDING TRUST Sarasota's new police chief begins multiple initiatives — Stan Zimmerman After a month on the job, Sarasota's new police chief has figured out two major problems and is making efforts to remedy them. Chief Bernadette DiPino will be improving training for the force she leads, and she will work to restore trust between members of the public and officers. She also will push for changes in the court system. "We have to re-establish and gain trust in the community," she said. "I believe outreach and education is important." Within a few days, she hopes to announce the formation of a "Citizens Police Academy." It will start out as a once-a-year course for city residents through which they will take classes, go on tours, visit the gun range, mingle with special police teams and try their hands at simulated street confrontations. (Full story here) Click Any Headline To Go Directly To That Article AT A GLANCE TOP STORIES

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