NEWS RELEASE 20-082 - JUNE 16, 2020
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office announced Tuesday their latest campaign in response to the national conversation about police reform.
Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis Police officers on May 25, the nation has seen protests, riots, and several calls to action for law enforcement agencies coming from formal and informal reform groups. On the suncoast, Sarasota County and its municipalities have been home to nearly a dozen peaceful protests which have yet to end in any arrests, major property damage or destruction. On May 29, Sheriff Tom Knight issued a statement
condemning the actions of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin who was indicted on charges of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder. On June 8, Knight also wrote an op-ed titled “The Path Forward Starts with Leadership and Culture
,” published in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
“Over the past several days as Americans have digested the events of Minneapolis and Louisville, we have been hard at work looking at our policies,” commented Knight’s chief deputy, Colonel Kurt A. Hoffman. “We pride ourselves on being in tune with what our community wants and expects out of the county’s largest law enforcement agency and more often than not, we are right on par. George Floyd’s death however, sparked a new level of national outrage that calls on all police agencies to respond and that’s why we are launching this campaign.”
In “How We Serve: Defining the Culture of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office,”
the agency highlights 12 different discussion points including Use of Force, Rightful Policing, Training, Diversity, Transparent Communication, Body-Worn Cameras, Comprehensive Reporting, Addressing Social Injustices, Shooting at Moving Vehicles, 21st
Century Policing, Supervisor Accountability, and “Stronger Together,” a statement on their commitment to community engagement. The campaign includes an infographic
dedicated to sharing agency demographics, statistics on excessive force, reasons behind policy decisions, and more.
Hoffman adds that culture is the only thing that can truly reform police agencies stuck in the wrong decade. “Leadership starts at the top and that is why we set expectations early on about the culture of the sheriff’s office. Rightful policing is not just what we do; it is who we are. My message to law enforcement executives who employ a workforce that does not buy into a 2020 policing philosophy is to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. There is no longer room in this profession for officers who refuse to honor the oath they took when they pinned on their badge and agreed to serve ALL the citizens of their community.”
To learn more about the “How We Serve” campaign, visit SarasotaSheriff.org or visit the agency’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube using the hashtag #SCSOHowWeServe. In coming weeks, citizens will also be able to visit the agency’s Sarasota headquarters located at 6010 Cattleridge Blvd., to pick up a printed copy of the campaign infographic.