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More Details Revealed About Sarasota Police Chief's Resignation

man stands as female police chief speaks
Sarasota Police Department / Facebook
Bernadette DiPino, right, announced she is stepping down as Sarasota police chief effective Jan. 29, 2021.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports a fellow officer recently filed an anonymous complaint against Chief Bernadette DiPino over comments she made about a homeless man. DiPino's resignation goes into effect Friday.

There's more information coming out about some of the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino that was announced Wednesday.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports an officer recently filed an anonymous complaint against DiPino.

The chief reportedly asked officers if anyone had a taser she could use against a mentally ill homeless man who heckled them at an outdoor performance by the Sarasota Opera.

DiPino issued an apology email to her staff, saying she was defending her officers and that the comments were meant to be private, as well as what she called "cop humor."

“For me this incident is a stark reminder that as the police chief and a leader I must use and choose my words carefully. My jesting was never meant for the public. It was a form of cop humor often used to alleviate stress. I felt like I was defending my officers and showing them support,” she wrote.

“Our agency deserved and proudly displays the human and civil rights award. One comment so by me in defense of my officers is not actions, it’s words. And words have been used over and over this past week to disparage me and the reputation of our agency.”

She also noted that homelessness in the city dropped by more than 50% during her eight years as chief.

The Herald-Tribune reported last week that, in light of the comments, the head of the Sarasota Police Department's union said they were considering taking a vote of no confidence in the chief.

Under terms of a separation agreement, DiPino will receive five months' pay, a sidearm, and a badge.

In her resignation announcement, the 35-year law enforcement veteran said she will pursue another position in law enforcement.

DiPino's resignation goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

A spokesman said Wednesday that the search for an interim chief will begin immediately.

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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