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Sarasota Gets First Female Police Chief

City of Sarasota

Bernadette DiPino was appointed today to serve as the next Chief of Police for the Sarasota Police Department.

The 48-year-old will replace Chief Mikel Hollaway, who retires December 1st. DiPino is currently chief of police in the tourist town of Ocean City, Maryland. The city has only 7,000 people, but summer crowds swell its population to become second only to Baltimore in the summertime.

“Chief DiPino will bring the experience, passion and leadership to lead the SPD in partnering with every citizen in Sarasota to keep this community the safe and special place that it is,” said City Manager Tom Barwin during a news conference this afternoon at City Hall. “As a state and national leader in her field, Chief DiPino epitomizes the concept, and walks the walk, that police officers are a part of, not a part from the community.”

DiPino has served as Ocean City's police chief for 10 years.

“I’m honored to have been selected as Sarasota’s next Chief of Police,” she said. "I’m really looking forward to engaging residents and becoming part of the community.  I have an open door policy and I want to hear from everyone about police issues - not just the bad but what’s good as well.  Sarasota is the kind of community where I can have a positive impact and I can’t wait to get started.” 

Her first day on the job will be January 1, 2013.

“I have asked Chief DiPino to take community policing to the next level here, which I call ‘partnership policing’,” Barwin said.  “Under her leadership I am confident the SPD will again be recognized as one of the finest departments in the State of Florida.  I look most forward to working with her to make her vision a reality.”

DiPino serves on the International Association of Chiefs of Police representing the states of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.  She also is a past president of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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