Troche named City of Sarasota police chief

City Manager Brown makes announcement on afternoon of April 28

(Editor’s note: This article was updated early on the morning of April 29 to correct the timeline for the city’s first Hispanic mayor.)

Chief Rex Troche. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

The City of Sarasota had its first Hispanic mayor in 2010, when Kelly Kirschner won that honor. Now the city officially has its first Hispanic police chief.

During the afternoon of April 28, City Manager Marlon Brown removed the “interim” from the title that Chief Rex Troche had held since Brown appointed him to lead the Sarasota Police Department (SPD) in August 2021. That followed the unexpected resignation of Chief James Rieser, who cited health reasons.

Troche will serve as Sarasota’s 13th police chief, a city news release noted.

He officially will be sworn in during a ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday, April 29, at SPD Headquarters, the release added. The building is located at 2099 Adams Lane in downtown Sarasota.

City staff plans to live-stream the event on the City of Sarasota and Sarasota Police Department Facebook pages.

During Troche’s time as the interim chief, Brown “conducted an extensive listening tour, engaging with dozens of community organizations, neighborhoods, advisory boards, elected officials and the City’s two police unions to gather their feedback about what attributes they’d like to see in the next chief,” the release pointed out.

During an April 4 update to the City Commission regarding his search for a new chief, Brown indicated that it had taken him a while to set up the meetings with the union representatives.

Respondents to the survey of stakeholder groups “said they valued leadership skills within the department (23%) and professional management skills (19%) as two of the most important qualities in a police chief. Other priorities included community involvement (20%), a focus on diversity and inclusion (11%), communication skills (10%) and technical policing skills (10%), the city news release noted.

On April 4, the city commissioners lauded Troche’s leadership. Mayor Erik Arroyo, who became the first Hispanic mayor of Sarasota in November 2021, told Brown, “I’ve been extremely impressed [with Troche].”

Both Vice Mayor Kyle Battie and City Commissioner Hagen Brody told Troche that he is “doing a great job.”

Brown also talked that day of his philosophy of hiring from within a department. “As we say to [Troche],” Brown added, “it’s his job to lose …”

On April 4, City Manager Marlon Brown talks about the hiring of a new police chief as Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch listens. File image

Brown promised the commissioners that he would make a final decision in late April on whether to name Troche chief or whether to conduct a national search.

In 2012, then-City Manager Tom Barwin named Bernadette DiPino chief after a national search. She remained with the department until late January 2021.

“Interim Chief Troche has essentially been interviewing for the job every day for the past eight months, and during that time, as well as throughout his career with our organization, he has demonstrated he possesses the qualities of the kind of chief our community needs and desires,” Brown said in the April 28 release. “It’s my pleasure to appoint someone who has risen through the ranks of our organization to this position, and I know he will do an excellent job representing Sarasota.”

Troche has served in all four agency divisions (Patrol, Professional Standards, Criminal Investigations, and Support Services) as either an officer or supervisor, the release pointed out. He was promoted to the ranks of sergeant in 2013, lieutenant in 2017 and captain in 2020.

“Chief Troche understands that in times of crisis, we aren’t judged solely by how many crimes are brought to justice — we are also judged by our commitment to this great city and the constitution that we’ve sworn to defend and to the values that we’ve pledged to protect,” said Mayor Arroyo in the release. “This is why, as we continue to promote from within, our city presently boasts a record low in most crime statistics.”

Mayor Erik Arroyo. File image

Arroyo also pointed out, “Rex Troche’s impressive record of leadership, professionalism and community involvement are a great asset to the department and to our citizens. We are truly blessed to have a servant of his caliber among us.”

Troche earned a master’s degree in emergency management from Saint Leo University, the release noted. He is a member of the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA), Hispanic American Police Commanders Officers Association (HAPCOA), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

Last year, he graduated from the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP), a leadership program hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum, the release added.

“I am honored and humbled to lead the dedicated men and women of the Sarasota Police Department,” Troche said in the release. “I will continue to promote our community policing initiatives, focus on reducing gun violence and increase the visibility of our officers in the city. I’m excited to move our agency forward by hiring the best and brightest officers who will reflect our community. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to build trust, transparency, and lasting relationships with the citizens of the City of Sarasota,” Troche added.

Troche has been married to his wife, Kelly, for more than 23 years, the release says. They have three daughters.

A Sarasota News Leader review of the Police Department’s Facebook page within 35 minutes of the posting of the announcement found 33 comments.

“Well deserved and about time!” one woman wrote.

“Awesome person to lead SPD,” another post said.

One individual posted a gif of Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon exclaiming, “Yes!” and punching the air.