Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

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Sarasota County Sheriff's Office
Logo and badge of the Sarasota Sheriff's Office.
Common nameSarasota Sheriff's Office
Agency overview
FormedMay 14, 1921
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionSarasota, Florida, US
Map of Florida highlighting Sarasota County.svg
Map of Sarasota County Sheriff's Office's jurisdiction.
General nature
HeadquartersSarasota, Florida

Agency executive
Sarasota County Sheriff's Office

Sarasota County Sheriff's Office (SSO) is the primary law enforcement agency for Sarasota County, Florida. The agency is responsible for law enforcement services in unincorporated areas of Sarasota County, jail facilities, and courthouse security for Florida's 12th Judicial Circuit. SSO also operates Public Safety Communications (PSC), the county's primary 911 center.


The sheriff's office was established in 1921 upon the creation of Sarasota County from the southern portion of Manatee County.[1] Florida Governor Cary A. Hardee appointed Burna Dale "Heinie" Levi as the first Sheriff of Sarasota County that year.[1] On August 22, 1921, Sarasota city marshal L.D. Hodges became the agency's first deputy.[2]

List of Sheriffs[edit]

  • Burna D. Levi (July 1, 1921 – December 1922)
  • L.D. Hodges (December 1922 – January 8, 1929)
  • W. Albert Keen (January 8, 1929 – January 3, 1933)
  • Clem Pearson (January 3, 1933 – May 1939)
  • B. Douglas "Doug" Pearson (May 1939 – June 1953)
  • Ross E. Boyer (January 6, 1953 – January 1973)
  • Jim Hardcastle (January 2, 1973 – January 8, 1985)
  • Geoffrey Monge (January 8, 1985 – January 2001)
  • William Balkwil (January 2001 – January 9, 2009)
  • Thomas M. Knight (January 9, 2009 – present)


Law enforcement[edit]

Patrol bureau[edit]

Deputies in the patrol bureau provide round-the-clock patrol services and answers calls for service in their jurisdiction, which is unincorporated Sarasota County.[3]

Special Operations bureau[edit]

The Special Operations division assists the patrol bureau in providing specialized law enforcement services to the county. Divisions within this bureau include:[4]

  • Agricultural Unit
  • Animal Services Unit
  • Aviation Unit
  • Emergency Response Team (ERT)
  • Fugitive Apprehension Unit
  • Hazardous Devices Unit
  • K-9 Unit
  • Marine Unit
  • Mounted Patrol Unit
  • Sheriff's Underwater Recovery Force (SURF)
  • Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit
  • Traffic Unit
  • Youth Services

Investigative bureau[edit]

The Investigate Bureau employs detectives along with civilian crime analysts. Divisions within the bureau include:[5]

Specialized units[edit]

Deputies may also be assigned to specialized units in addition to their regular duties. These units include:[6]

  • Bomb Unit
  • Crisis Negotiation Team
  • Emergency Response Team
  • Mounted Patrol
  • Sheriff's Underwater Recovery Force (SURF)
  • SWAT Unit


The agency is responsible for providing court security for all Courthouses and Courtrooms in Sarasota County.

There are two courts in Sarasota County - a courthouse in Venice, as well as the main courthouse in downtown Sarasota. Bailiffs also provided security at the Clerk of Courts building as well as at the Sheriff's Office main headquarters at 2071 Ringling Blvd.

There are several units in the Bailiffs section, to include Security (for the building), Transport and Courtroom security.


The Agency is responsible for staffing and maintaining the Sarasota County Jail.

Corrections Deputies are charged with the care, custody & control of inmates in the County facility.

The current jail is located in downtown Sarasota and consists of three interconnected jails. The current inmate census is about 950 inmates.

911 Center[edit]

The Sheriff's Office operates Public Safety Communications (PSC), the county's primary 911 center. In addition to dispatching for the Sheriff's Office, it provides law enforcement dispatch to the Sarasota and Venice Police Departments and fire/medical dispatch for the Sarasota County Fire Department, Nokomis Fire Department, Venice Fire Department, North Port Fire Department, and Englewood Fire Department.[7]


Title Insignia
2 Gold Stars.svg
Colonel Gold-vector.svg
US-O4 insignia.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg

Vehicle fleet[edit]

The agency currently uses police vehicles manufactured by General Motors' Chevrolet brand. The department's patrol fleet primarily consists of the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Caprice PPV, and Chevrolet Tahoe.


The sheriff's office has been the subject of numerous lawsuits from both civilians and employees.[8] A civil rights lawsuit by the family of Rodney Mitchell alleges that Sheriff Knight's law enforcement policies are unconstitutional.[9]

Employee retaliation suits[edit]

Sergeant Chris Iorio sued the sheriff's office in 2013, claiming that Sheriff Knight retaliated against him for reporting Captain Ron Locke to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after hearing reports that Locke may have molested an underage girl during the mid-1990s.[10] No charges were filed against Locke.[11]

Captain Richard Mottola, who supervised Iorio, filed a lawsuit in 2014 alleging that Sheriff Knight retaliated against Mottola for failing to punish Iorio.[12]


  1. ^ a b Snell, Robert M. (1999). From Shield to Star. Sarasota, Florida: Coastal Printing. p. 3. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. ^ Snell, Robert M. (1999). From Shield to Star. Sarasota, Florida: Coastal Printing. p. 4. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ "Patrol Bureau". Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  4. ^ "Special Operations Bureau". Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  5. ^ "Investigation Bureau". Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  6. ^ "Specialized Units". Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  7. ^ "911 Call Center". Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  8. ^ "60 lawsuits pending against Sarasota County". Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  9. ^ "Sarasota Sheriff's Office faces lawsuit over Rodney Mitchell shooting". Sarasota News – and ABC 7. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  10. ^ "Sarasota Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Iorio files civil rights lawsuit against Sheriff Tom Knight". Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  11. ^ "FDLE: No charges will be filed against Sarasota County Sheriff's Capt. Ron Locke". Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  12. ^ "Captain files civil suit against Sheriff Knight". Retrieved October 15, 2014.

External links[edit]