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Sarasota News Leader June 21, 2013 OPINION Page 61 SPD apparently is incapable of handling its Sheriff's Office, how will the City Commission job in the City of Sarasota, calling on the Sher- address this problem? iff's Office more and more frequently for help. Certainly, it could increase funding for the deThe problem has reached a critical stage for partment and put more officers on the streets, the Sheriff's Office, as demands by the city cre- eliminating the need for the Sheriff's Office to ate more officer overtime and more expense. constantly run interference. But such a soluKnight has pointed out that he will have to tion, frankly, is throwing good money after begin planning for extra staffing needs if he is bad … and the city cannot afford to do so. to continue to provide this enhanced level of No, the time has come for the City Commisservice to the city. sion to face the hard truth: The cost of mainThis should be of great concern for the taxpayers of Sarasota County, especially those who live in the city of Sarasota. Outside the city, county taxpayers will be asked to pick up the tab for an expanded Sheriff's Office that will not benefit them directly. Inside the city, taxpayers are left to wonder what sort of value they are receiving for their city tax dollars, when the SPD appears incapable of performing the duties expected. The mayor was blunt in his desired solution. He would like to disband the SPD and officially turn over law enforcement in the city to the Sheriff's Office. "In my personal opinion, the sheriff would do a better job," he stated. taining its own police force has consumed too much of the city's resources, and that force still fails to accomplish the primary mission of effective law enforcement. Accordingly, discussions should begin with the county to have the Sheriff's Office formally assume responsibility for law enforcement within the city limits. Of course, city financial concessions will be needed to ease this transition. There will be the rather complex logistics of absorbing the city police officers into the larger force of the Sheriff's Office. And the handling of the pension fund for existing police retirees must be dealt with. But complexity should not be a deterrent to action. While we have not agreed with some of SnyThe Sarasota city commissioners, now that der's other proposals as a city commissioner, they are aware of this dire situation, should we believe he makes a good point in this case. move with all deliberate speed to effect a pruIf the Sarasota Police Department, with all its dent and equitable solution. And that should resources, is unable to provide law enforce- include getting the city out of the law enforcement for the city without assistance from the ment business. %

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