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City appoints James Rieser as chief of police

Rieser, a captain with nearly three decades of experience, will take the top job at the Sarasota Police Department following Bernadette DiPino’s resignation.

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  • | 11:25 a.m. January 29, 2021
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The city of Sarasota has selected James Rieser as the next chief of the Sarasota Police Department after Bernadette DiPino’s resignation earlier this week.

City Manager Marlon Brown made the appointment, announcing Rieser’s promotion at a news conference today. Rieser is a captain who has worked for the Sarasota Police Department for 29 years. Rieser will move into the police chief position at 5 p.m. today, when DiPino's resignation takes effect.

“He’s well-respected in the department and community and well-versed with SPD’s extensive policies and initiatives,” Brown said in a release. “He is prepared to step in as chief immediately and move the organization forward, strengthen trust between law enforcement and neighborhoods and lead SPD into a new technological realm with body-worn cameras.”

Most recently commanding the department's support services division, Rieser has also served in the narcotics and criminal investigations, professional standards and patrol divisions, according to a city release. Raised in Sarasota, Rieser attended Riverview High School and Manatee Community College before receiving a bachelor’s degree in criminology at Saint Leo University.

Both Brown and Rieser said they believed Rieser’s longstanding ties to Sarasota would help him serve effectively as chief.

“I’ve worked alongside the men and women of the Sarasota Police Department since 1992 when I became a patrol officer to serve this amazing community,” Rieser said in the release. “I’m honored and humbled to have the privilege to be able to lead this agency moving forward.  I am looking forward to continuing to partner with our community and working with our agency to keep the city of Sarasota a safe place to live, work, and play.”

Jim Rieser said he was thankful for the opportunity to lead the Sarasota Police Department at a press conference today. Image via city of Sarasota.
Jim Rieser said he was thankful for the opportunity to lead the Sarasota Police Department at a press conference today. Image via city of Sarasota.

The city announced Rieser’s appointment less than 48 hours after DiPino announced her resignation. Although DiPino was not present at today’s news conference, Brown said she left her position in good standing.

Brown said he felt comfortable foregoing an interim appointment and elevating Rieser to full-time chief without a longer search because of his experience within the police department and respect within the agency.

“We have a talented individual who has grown through the organization, has grown through the ranks,” Brown said.

Brown said he was eager to empower Rieser to start building connections within the community and carrying out the organization’s policies and initiatives.

“Our agency will continue to be a leader in community policing,” Rieser said. “This is our cornerstone.”

Mayor Hagen Brody, in attendance alongside Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch at the news conference, offered positive feedback to Rieser’s appointment.

“With Jim Rieser’s appointment today, this community can rest assured that public safety and police services will not skip a beat, and we are fortunate to have someone with his experience, character and integrity ready and willing to step up and serve in this new role as our next police chief,” Brody said in the release.


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