The city's first Hispanic chief has served with department for 20 years.
In front of a room packed with well-wishers both in uniform and in civilian clothing, Rex Troche on Friday took the oath of office and pinned on a gold badge, officially making him Sarasota's 13th police chief and the first of Hispanic heritage.
With his wife, Kelly, holding a Spanish-language Bible and his parents and children watching from the front row, Troche, 50, repeated the oath delivered by Deputy City Manager Pat Robinson. Following the last phrase, the room erupted in a standing ovation and loud applause.
Members of the 190-officer Sarasota Police Department were among those cheering loudest, but guests from around the area also were on hand. State Attorney Ed Brodsky attended the event, as did representatives from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, the Sarasota County Schools Police, the Sarasota Memorial Hospital security team, Venice Police, New College and Longboat Key's George Turner, who was sworn in as that town's 13th police chief on March 11.
City Manager Marlon Brown said he interviewed no other candidates but did gather information from a wide range of city stakeholders on the qualifications best suited the city's next chief of police. He said Troche met all of them and also satisfied Brown's preference for hiring from within.
Respondents to the City Manager’s survey of stakeholder groups said they valued leadership skills within the department (23%) and professional management skills (19%) as two of the most important qualities in a police chief. Other priorities included community involvement (20%), a focus on diversity and inclusion (11%), communication skills (10%) and technical policing skills (10%).
Troche had been serving as interim chief since August when then-chief Jim Rieser retired seven months after the city promoted him into its top law enforcement role. Rieser, who had worked for the Sarasota Police Department since 1992, replaced previous Chief Bernadette DiPino, who resigned in January 2021.
"The community was great, we had over 55 organizations that responded to our survey, we met with both unions, they gave us their feedback and lo and behold, we had that individual right here within the department, '' Brown said. "And again, my philosophy is to always promote from within if we have that talent, if we have that expertise, and Chief Troche just check all the boxes that the community saw they wanted in a chief.'
Brown said regular interactions with Troche since August helped solidity in his mind that the 20 year veteran of the department was the right candidate for the job.
"For lack of a better word, he just hit it out of the park," Brown said.
Troche said for his part, serving the role as interim chief simply made even clearer that the path toward the formal position was the right direction for him.
"I felt I was the right person for this job, I felt that I had enough experience, I had enough life experience I had enough training to step into this role,'' he said. "For me, there was no hesitation and I felt just the confidence that the city manager exuded when we had our conversations and the belief that he had in me, there was never a day where I felt, 'wow, I'm not sure I should make this decision because I don't have the support of the city manager.''
Troche is the son of a Chicago police officer who served 24 years on the force. Troche has been Sarasota Police since 2002, serving in each of the departments divisions and rising through the ranks after starting his law enforcement career in Largo in 1997. In Sarasota, Troche has been an officer, a sergeant, a lieutenant, a captain and a deputy chief.
He holds a four-year degree in criminal justice from University of South Florida and a Masters in emergency and disaster management from Saint Leo College. He is a member of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Hispanic American Police Commanders Officers Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, NAACP and the Police Executive Research Forum.
Troche has been married to his wife, Kelly, for more than 23 years, and they have three daughters.
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