Sheriff Tom Knight told Sarasota County commissioners that he’s getting concerned about the state of the Sheriff’s Office facilities.
Knight gave a report to commissioners at today’s meeting, outlining the current problems with the Sheriff’s Office buildings and rented facilities, and also expressed the desire to increase staffing for the growing development east of I-75.
The administrative building downtown on Ringling Boulevard meets state requirements, but would not be secure during a major storm. It’s also small and cramped, and the room used to hold evidence and property–800,000 pieces worth—is stacked to the ceilings, he said.
Knight said it’s a running joke in that location when the Sheriff’s Office confiscates a large amount of marijuana because people can smell it. The ventilation in the room has been improved over the years, but the smell leaks into the stairwells.
“You hear a lot of giggling back there because you can smell the dope,” Knight said. “Every time we hit a grow house, you can smell it in the whole building.”
The storage of the department’s fleet vehicles, including some high technology equipment, is mostly stored only under carports. During a storm, these expensive assets have little to no protection, Knight said. The forensics building has water and rodent damage. The department lost an $8,000 piece of equipment because of water damage after a ceiling tile caved in.
“I have some concerns, especially at our off-site locations,” Knight said.
Development east of I-75, especially in the county’s Fruitville Initiative area, has Knight speculating that the department needs toad more deputies out in that area, and soon. Currently the area only has two patrol officers; Knight would like to upgrade it to a “zone” which requires six officers.
“We want to have visibility in that area, not just answer calls,” he said.
Commissioners did not take action, as it was a discussion item, but agreed future discussions were needed to start addressing the problems.
“It’s pretty horrifying, what I’m seeing here,” said Commissioner Alan Maio.