Report ‘significantly shorter’ than previous versions, staff notes
In 2021, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office issued 23,353 traffic citations, processed 7,743 arrests, handled 2,567 calls for assistance by its Aviation Unit, and donated more than $31,000 to nonprofit organizations.
Those are just a few of the statistics in the agency’s 2021 Year in Review, which it released last week.
Unlike past versions of the Sheriff’s Office’ annual report, the 2021 publication “is significantly shorter and consolidated,” a news release points out.
The latest report comprises 12 pages. For the previous two years, it numbered 20 pages, in comparison
“The  document includes a look at traffic operations, homeless outreach efforts, community partnerships, and demographics on [Sheriff’s Office] employee diversity,” the release adds. It also features a letter from Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman, who noted a number of agency accomplishments for 2021.
“The last year was challenging for many as we continued to navigate the pandemic,” said Hoffman in the news release. “Despite the continued uncertainties across the country, in Sarasota County, we felt more connected than ever to the community we serve,” he wrote.
“In 2021,” Hoffman continued, “we launched two additional campaigns within our How We Serve series, hosted virtual career fairs, earned re-accreditation, and a new accreditation for our Drug Lab. We partnered with Sarasota County to halt the release of more than $4 million in fraudulent CARES Act monies and completed our 2021-2025 strategic plan.”
“There is so much to be proud of in 2021,” he pointed out in the release, adding, “I hope this year’s report will give citizens a flavor for the great work our men and women are doing.”
Among other details provided in his letter in the report, Hoffman noted “a significant change” that Lt. Arik Smith, the former leader of the Siesta Key Substation, has explained to members of the Siesta Key Association during their monthly meetings: Law enforcement personnel had to make a transition from Uniformed Crime Reporting to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).
“In its simplest form,” Hoffman wrote, “on January 1, 2021, NIBRS completely changed how law enforcement organizations began reporting crime data to the FBI. The new formula is robust and [provides] more specific details of crimes, which is helpful to policymakers and analysts. What this meant for [the Sheriff’s Office],” he added, “is we had to essentially start from scratch with a brand new approach to data collection. It has been a learning curve for all of us, but we look forward to sharing new, more in-depth statistics with you in next year’s annual report.”
The very first set of statistics in the 2021 report focuses on Sheriff’s Office personnel. As the document notes, “Our greatest asset is our people. Written into our How We Serve campaign and strategic plan are commitments to employing a diverse workforce that represents the community we serve. We believe in higher education, employee wellness, and equipping our personnel with personal and professional tools for success.”
The report says that the agency last year had 1,017 authorized positions. Of those, 454 were sworn deputies; 210 were sworn Corrections Division deputies; and 353 were civilian members.
In regard to demographics: 63% were male. White individuals held 85% of the positions, while 8% of the employees were Hispanic and 5.4% were Black. The report notes that the 2020 Census demographics for the county showed the breakdown for the population was 82.8% white, 9.6% Hispanic, and 4.7% Black.
The section on traffic enforcement points out that Sarasota County’s 2021 Citizen Opinion Survey showed that traffic/transportation was the “fifth most significant concern for citizens.” The document adds, “We are taxpayers ourselves and agree that traffic is a concern, so we make it a priority.” The Sheriff’s Office has four full-time traffic squads providing coverage throughout the unincorporated areas of the county, the report notes.
Among 2021 statistics in that section are the following:
- 6,109 traffic crashes worked.
- 6,266,226 miles driven.
- 460,615 gallons of fuel used.
- 575 agency vehicles.
In regard to the Sheriff’s Office’s Homeless Outreach Teams work during 2021, the report says that the two deputies and three civilian case managers recorded a total of 549 contacts and deputy referrals, plus 944 case management follow-up efforts.
As for the Mounted Patrol Unit: Its members — the five horses and two full-time and five-part time riders — worked 2,950 hours and trained for another 2,085 hours. Not only does the unit assist with law enforcement, the report points out, but it also “participates in community events and parades …”
The agency’s K-9 teams had 896 deployments in 2021, the report adds, and they trained for 1,716 hours. The K-9s and their handlers “initiate missing person searches, apprehend fleeing criminals, conduct high-risk vehicle stops and article searches, perform drug odor and explosive detection,” and take on other responsibilities, the report points out.
Another section of the report focuses on the Public Safety Communications Center, which is located on the second floor of the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center on Porter Way in Sarasota. That facility handles all of the 911 calls. In 2021, the report says, the center’s call volume was 679,635.
Among other details, the report notes that the Sheriff’s Office received 27,541 public records requests in 2021, not counting those made by members of the news media; its Drug Lab processed 1,619 controlled substances; and staff received or processed 17,942 items of property or evidence.
The total Sheriff’s Office budget for the 2021 fiscal year, as adopted by the County Commission, was $122,256,702, the report points out. Of that, $20,913,537 went to operating expenses.
To view or download a copy of the 2021 Annual Report, visit http://www.SarasotaSheriff.org, and under the “News & Publications” tab, hover over “Notices & Publications,” then select “Annual Reports.” Printed copies will be available at the agency’s headquarters, located at 6010 Cattleridge Blvd., in Sarasota.