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Sarasota Monday, Oct. 30, 2017 4 years ago

SPD wins two awards from International Association of Chiefs of Police

The honors recognize the department's volunteers as well as homeless outreach efforts.
by: Ryan Butler News Innovation Editor

In a pair of honors highlighting community policing, the International Association of Chiefs of Police recognized two Sarasota Police Department programs at its annual conference last week.

The SPD received the 2017 IACP Leadership in Human and Civil Rights Award for its efforts assisting Sarasota’s homeless. The department also received the 2017 IACP/BodyWorn Leadership in Law Enforcement Volunteer Programs Award.

Within the past five years, SPD's work has helped reduce the city’s homeless population by more than 60%. Focusing on a three-tiered approach of education, encouragement and enforcement, SPD Chief Bernadette DiPino said the city’s Homeless Outreach Team has helped hundreds get into social programs with the goal of keeping them safe and out of trouble.

“I was so shocked and happy and surprised, but so honored because I knew we were so deserving of that for our homeless outreach,” DiPino said.  

DiPino said her department’s program is on the forefront of global efforts to assist the homeless. Lt. Richie Schweiterman said he has helped more people in less than three years with the homeless outreach program than in nearly 15 years as a law enforcement officer serving in other capacities.

“When you improve the quality of life for one homeless person, it’s not just that homeless person, it’s the quality of life for everyone who resides in that city,” Schweiterman said.


The department was also honored for its volunteer coordination programs. In 2016, volunteers contributed 18,101 service hours, mostly to community outreach events. The SPD estimates those efforts saved nearly $400,000 of in-kind services, which allowed professional police officers to better focus on policing and crime prevention.

“I can’t say thank you enough times to show them appreciation, but this award makes them understand how important they are and the role they play in our organization,” DiPino said.

Founded in 1893, the IACP is a consortium of more than 27,000 law enforcement leaders that helps facilitate policing programs and the sharing of ideas between departments from around the world.  

These are the first two honors the SPD has received from the IACP at its annual conference. The department was a finalist for the 2016 IACP/Cisco Community Policing Award.

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