Sarasota has a new police chief.
City Manager Tom Barwin has chosen Bernadette DiPino as the city’s top cop. DiPino, who has been police chief in Ocean City, Md. Since 2003, will oversee a force of 174 sworn police officers in Sarasota
Barwin announced the decision today at 3 p.m.
The new chief brings experience as a police chief and as a community-policing instructor, training more than a thousand officers. During her career, DiPino was named Officer of the Year three times and received 18 commendations, including one for disarming a suicidal person and another for her work with the narcotics unit.
DiPino became the first SWAT team officer, first lieutenant, and eventually first female police chief in Ocean City.
She is the first woman to lead Sarasota’s police department. Sarasota currently has 23 sworn women officers on a force of 174 total officers.
Just up the road, Tampa's police department is overseen by Jane Castor, who was appointed chief by Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio in 2009.
In Sarasota DiPino inherits a department that has been surrounded by controversy following a high-profile investigation into excessive force that resulted in the forced resignation of former police chief Peter Abbott. Further budget cuts and changes to the police pension plan are also on the horizon.
David Massey, who as former police chief in Ocean City encouraged DiPino to apply for his post when he retired, said DiPino is up to the challenges in Sarasota.
“She never fails,” Massey said. “I gave her some of the toughest assignments to see how she would handle them, and there wasn’t one that she didn’t do well.”
Massey said DiPino is also experienced with working closely with the business community and neighborhood associations.
Current position: Chief of police, Ocean City, Md., 2003 to present
Years in law enforcement: 27
Highlights: Officer of the Year (1987, 1993 and 1997)
On the beat: Earned 18 commendations, including recognition for disarming a suicidal person, recovering three kidnapped children, apprehending two homicide suspects and for her quick actions with a child in respiratory distress. As a sergeant in charge of Ocean City’s community policing unit in 1995, one of DiPino’s initiatives was to line up officer-supervised buses in front of bars and clubs to drive intoxicated patrons home safely. DiPino tweets police updates and safety tips.
Currently 2 Responses
- What should you be looking for in a new police chief? How are you going to evaluate your new leader? Do one or more of the four major obstacles arresting the development of your police department exist? For insight and direction on this and other important police improvement issues, take a look at “Arrested Development: A Veteran Police Chief Sounds Off About Protest, Racism, Corruption and the Seven Steps Necessary to Improve Our Nation’s Police” (Amazon.com in US and EU). And the blog at http://improvingpolice.wordpress.com/ where other current police improvement issues are discussed. Good luck and may we all experience not just good but great policing! Great policing is accomplished by police who are well-trained and led, restrained in their use of force, honest, and courteous to every person.
- Sarasota, educate yourself regarding your new chief. Obviously Tom Barwin did not. Mr. Barwin, are you aware of the past and present Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints involving your newly appointed chief? Are you aware the Town of Ocean City paid out $550,000 in legal expenses to defend her for the 2008 case? As part of the settlement the Town of Ocean City had to pay out $40,000 to several OCPD sergeants and mandated EEOC age and sexual discrimination training for all police employees. Did she disclose this during her interview? Is that on her 27 page resume? I think not!
Did you also know last year 6 Ocean City Police officers with less than 10 years on the force all resigned within 5 months of each other because of the intolerable work environment she created with her command staff? OCPD rank and file offic...ers are celebrating her retirement because they are rid of her. Soon you will learn firsthand why they’re celebrating. Good luck…you’re going to need it.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
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