SPECIAL WEAPONS AND TACTICS (SWAT) UNIT
The agency's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team is a tactical unit made up of specially trained deputies. They are on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week. SWAT team members maintain a high level of proficiency with a range of weapons and equipment, and train on a continual basis. SWAT assists with any number of high risk and technical operations that are often protracted in nature, including hostage rescue and apprehending armed suspects.
HOSTAGE NEGOTIATION TEAM
The agency's Hostage Negotiation Team is comprised of eight negotiators who are on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Specially-trained negotiators work in conjunction with the agency's SWAT Team. Negotiators utilize crisis intervention and de-escalation skills to attempt to safely resolve situations. They perform a unique function in that they must attempt to negotiate the surrender of barricaded persons and hostage takers, while facilitating the safe release of hostages.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit is staffed with four deputy pilots and two aviation mechanics. The unit also has seven part-time Tactical Flight Officers (TFOs) and is tasked with serving in a support role for different areas within the sheriff’s office as well as surrounding agencies, with a focus on patrol operations. To provide this support, the Aviation Unit operates a 2005 Bell 407 helicopter and a 2012 Bell 407 GX helicopter. These helicopters are equipped with a wide variety of equipment including a Wescam MX-10 Multi sensor system (Infrared), Aero Computers/Churchill moving map system, Infrared Searchlight, and night vision goggles.
MOUNTED PATROL UNIT
The agency’s Mounted Patrol Unit is comprised of two full-time deputies, five part-time deputies, one part-time barn technician, and six horses. These deputies regularly patrol neighborhoods, parks, beaches, and shopping districts on horseback. They are highly visible with community outreach and crime prevention being their focus. The horses are particularly effective at conducting missing person searches, especially in wooded terrain that inhibits the use of vehicles. The Mounted Patrol Unit continues to function because of community generosity and support as many of the horses are donated and much of the stable maintenance and horse care is provided by volunteers.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office took over the responsibilities of Animal Control from the County Government on Oct.1, 1994. The name "Animal Control" was changed to "Animal Services" due to the many services provided to all of Sarasota County. Animal Service Officers respond to calls for service, including nuisance complaints, animal bites, injured animals and animal cruelty. Follow this link to learn more about the Animal Services Section.
HAZARDOUS DEVICES UNIT
The Hazardous Devices Unit is responsible for rendering safe and the disposal of all bombs, booby traps and incendiary devices that are found in the county. Each deputy is trained at the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School in Huntsville, Alabama. The Unit itself is also accredited by the FBI. Members deploy a number of high-tech tools, including a robot, a digital x-ray system and radiation detection equipment. The robot has a track system similar to a tank which allows it to navigate all types of surfaces, including climbing stairs. There are four cameras used for navigation and viewing a suspected bomb. The robot has a single arm which has three moveable joints with a claw at the end. The operator uses the arm for opening doors or lifting and moving objects. An injured person in a dangerous location can be dragged to safety by the robot. It can also be used as a platform to take x-rays of a suspicious item and has tools which can be used to open a package. The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office robot is a valuable and versatile piece of equipment which the Hazardous Devices Unit regularly uses on calls.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit is comprised of six teams. Four of the K9 teams are dual purpose dogs that perform narcotics searches and man work, and two are dual purpose performing explosive detection and man work. These teams augment the Patrol Bureau's activities by responding to incidents requiring the unique abilities of the K-9 partnership. These might include missing person searches, apprehending fleeing criminals, high-risk vehicle stops, article searches, drug odor detection, and explosive detection. Each team receives nearly 500 hours of training prior to going into service and is certified annually by both the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the National Police Canine Association.
FUGITIVE APPREHENSION UNIT
The Sheriff’s Office is responsible for serving all criminal, misdemeanor, traffic and juvenile warrants in Sarasota County. The Sheriff’s Office receives more than 10,000 arrest warrants from the Clerk of Court’s Office each year. The Fugitive Apprehension Unit searches for wanted subjects, placing a priority on individuals who have warrants for violent felony offenses. They also assist the FDLE, FBI, U.S. Marshal’s Office and the Florida Department of Corrections.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM (ERT)
The agency's ERT responds to large-scale emergency situations and critical incidents. These include civil disorder, tactical search and rescue operations, disaster emergencies such as hurricanes, and prolonged incidents that would over-tax the normal resources of the agency. ERT was one of the units deployed to assist with the Republican National Convention when it was held in Tampa in 2012. ERT deputies are on call 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
SHERIFF’S UNDERWATER RECOVERY FORCE (SURF)
Because of the large number of beaches, lakes, rivers and marshes, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office developed a dive team. The agency’s SURF Unit is called upon to search for evidence of crimes and victims of drowning, water accidents and foul play. These highly trained underwater specialists have to work in some of the most difficult and challenging environments imaginable, as many of the waterways are full of silt and sediment deposits that affect underwater visibility. Like the other specialty units of the agency, SURF deputies are on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
The Marine Unit’s two full-time deputies are supplemented by seven others who provide assistance on a part-time basis when required. The Marine Unit functions primarily to ensure the safety of the county’s many waterways by utilizing any of the three agency Yellowfin vessels. Marine Patrol deputies enforce boating laws and conduct routine boat safety inspections. They respond to all emergency calls for service on the water, including vessel and aircraft crashes, reports of missing boaters and divers and sick or injured subjects. The Unit also works in partnership with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to keep local waterways safe.
The traffic unit is comprised of 20 deputies and 4 sergeants who focus on enforcing traffic laws, investigating crashes, and arresting impaired drivers. Every deputy assigned to the traffic unit has advanced training in crash and DUI investigations. Traffic deputies use a variety of technology including; radars, lasers, breath test instruments, and license plate readers to promote safe driving in Sarasota County. The motor unit, which is part of the traffic unit, uses 8 Harley Davidson motorcycles to assist with enforcement, as well as dignitary escorts and parades. The traffic unit responds to hundreds of traffic complaints each year with an emphasis on educating motorists and reducing traffic related injuries in Sarasota County.