Since Tom Knight became sheriff in 2009, report notes, the most serious criminal offenses are down 51.57%
In 2019, a total of 7,848 people were booked into the Sarasota County Jail. With several arrested more than once, the facility’s staff processed a total of 11,160 arrests last year.
Those statistics are among many in the 2019 Annual Report of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.
From data about Sheriff’s Office operations to putting the spotlight on employees who have attained special recognition to providing a list of “21 Apps Parents Should Know About” to discussing innovative measures undertaken in the jail to help inmates pursue productive lives after release, the report touches on every facet of department activities for the past year.
Since Sheriff Tom Knight took office in 2009, the report points out, Part 1 offenses in Sarasota County — the most serious crimes, according to the FBI — are down 51.57%.
In 2019, the department recorded 6,204 felony arrests, 4,187 misdemeanor arrests, and 115 civil arrests. Deputies served 600 out-of-county warrants, the report notes.
The Sheriff’s Office in 2019 had on staff 439 law enforcement deputies, 349 civilian personnel, and 207 deputies in the Corrections Department.
Among other statistics in the report are the following:
- Deputies assigned to the courts “welcomed 324,531 people; “however, they also had to confiscate 7,877 knives, razors, firearms and chemical weapons,” the report says. Altogether, court deputies made 114 arrests.
- The Public Safety Communications center received 648,571 calls altogether, to 911 and to the Sheriff’s Office’s non-emergency number. The center serves the Sheriff’s Office; the Sarasota County, Nokomis, Venice, Englewood, North Port and Longboat Key fire departments; the Sarasota, Venice, and Longboat Key police departments; and the Sarasota County Schools Police Department.
- Deputies made 517 arrests for driving under the influence and issued 25,452 traffic citations.
- Volunteers with the Animal Services Division donated 13,246 hours of service.
- Animal Services completed adoptions of 389 animals; it transferred 1,083 animals to rescue groups and other facilities; and it returned 871 “lost” animals to their owners.
- The Property & Evidence Division donated or destroyed 30,446 pieces of property; it received 20,569 items; it returned to their owners 813 items that had been “found”; and it destroyed 3,409 drug items.
- The members of the Mounted Patrol Unit spent 3,448 hours on horseback, while the total number of horseback training hours numbered 370.
- The Aviation Unit — which added Air-2 in 2018, thanks to funding from the Sarasota County Commission — received 2,833 calls for service; flew 740.8 hours; recorded only 6.8 days out of service; and provided 363 assists to other agencies.
- The Community Affairs Office reported 17.9 million Facebook impressions — the number of people who saw its posts on that social media platform. It also recorded 9 million Twitter impressions. Since 2010, the office has had 2.8 million views of its YouTube content.
- 51 county residents graduated from the 11-week Citizens Law Enforcement Academy, which allows members of the public “to spend time behind-the-scenes with agency members” to learn about the Sheriff’s Office’s operations.
- 58 students received instruction through the Teen Driver Challenge program, which the Florida Sheriffs Association and State Farm Insurance Co. sponsor to teach new drivers “several techniques,” such as defensive driving and “how to operate a vehicle safely while avoiding distractions.”
- The Sheriff’s Office donated more than $113,000 to a variety of organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, Mothers Against Drunk Driving of West Central Florida, the Child Protective Center and Teen Court of Sarasota County. The department “can use certain funds — including unclaimed property and evidence as well as some forfeited by criminals — to support organizations that promote values such as good citizenship, crime reduction or drug abuse prevent,” the report explains.
“I hope this annual report gives you a continued sense of pride in your sheriff’s office and the men and women who wear the uniform,” Sheriff Knight wrote in his personal message. “It has been my absolute honor to serve this great community for the last 12 years and I look forward to watching the Sarasota County Sheriff ’s Office grow and evolve in new and progressive ways while its members each serve with integrity, respect, service and fairness,” he added.