Sarasota’s new police chief Bernadette DiPino was sworn in Friday at the police department.
DiPino started on the job Dec. 31.
At the Ocean City Police Department, DiPino rose in the ranks during her 25 years there, from a narcotics officer all the way up to chief of police, in 2003. DiPino became the first female SWAT team officer, lieutenant and, eventually, first female police chief in Ocean City.
Although Sarasota currently has 23 sworn women officers on a force of 174 total officers, DiPino is the first woman to lead Sarasota’s police department. DiPino was chosen from 98 candidates.
Before the ceremony began, Mayor Suzanne Atwell hugged DiPino.
“What a day this is,” Atwell said in her introduction to the new chief, “a new day for Sarasota, for SPD, and for women.”
City Manager Tom Barwin talked about how the competition was intense for the search for the city’s new chief, and how the top candidates had each interviewed with separate panels.
“It’s quite amazing what happened,” Barwin said. “Every single panel was unanimous in their recommendation (for DiPino).”
After his brief speech, Barwin pulled a brand-new Sarasota police badge from his front pant pocket.
DiPino’s daughter, Tabitha Hays, a police officer in Maryland, pinned the badge on the chief.
“It’s official,” Barwin said.