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Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino resigns

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Posted at 8:27 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 21:36:20-05

SARASOTA, Fla. — Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino will resign on Friday after eight years as chief.

DiPino has been at the forefront of helping Sarasota law enforcement find better ways in dealing with mental health issues in the community.

But controversy erupted recently after a fellow officer complained to the city, accusing DiPino of jokingly asking officers for a Taser to quiet a mentally ill homeless man who was being disruptive during an outdoor event in November.

"Mental illness and homelessness are definitely not a joke," said Michael Barfield with the Sarasota ACLU chapter.

Barfield expressed his disappointment by the chief’s comment.

"Chief DiPino's mantra was lead by example. She failed the Sarasota community and the department when she made these comments. She definitely did not lead by example," said Barfield.

The city accepted the chief’s resignation agreement on Wednesday.

In a statement, Sarasota city manager Marlon Brown thanked the chief for her service and praised her for helping reduce crime in the city by 40 percent.

The exact reason for DiPino leaving hasn’t been stated.

In a press release released by the city of Sarasota, DiPino stated in part:

“It’s been my privilege to serve as the Chief of Police for the City of Sarasota. I am proud of my 35 years of honorable service as a law enforcement officer. We have accomplished so much in the last eight years. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of our civilian and sworn staff."

The city says the search for an interim chief will begin immediately.