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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 1, 2010 10 years ago

Police panel takes over department

by: Robin Roy City Editor

APRIL FOOLS — With its six-month run coming to an end in May, Police Advisory Panel members had been getting antsy, wondering what they were going to do next.

At an emergency meeting this week, the panel came up with an answer — it will become the first board of directors of the Sarasota Police Department.

The Police Advisory Panel was created to come up with recommendations on better policies and procedures for the police department.

Its main recommendation was that it be in charge of the department.

Panel Chairwoman Susan Chapman said the panel felt it was the best way for it to keep an eye on police activities permanently.

In another first for the department, there will be two chiefs of police. The panel voted unanimously to name Chapman co-chief of police. She will serve along with Chief Peter Abbott. The exact split of duties will be determined at a later date, but The Sarasota Observer has learned that initial discussions have the sworn-in officers answering to Chapman, while the panel will place Abbott in charge of scheduling, maintaining the fleet of vehicles and caring for the K-9s.

Chapman said she looks forward to working with Sarasota’s officers and that she believes the new organizational structure will create a better department.

City attorney Robert Fournier found nothing in the city’s charter that prohibits an advisory panel from taking over the police department.

For more on this story, click here.

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