Sheriff

Scott Swope, a Democrat who has never held an elected office, is challenging Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who has never been elected to office. In August, Gualtieri claimed the Republican nomination in a hard-fought primary campaign, while Swope obtained his party's nomination uncontested. Swope says Gualtieri, who was appointed in 2011 by Gov. Rick Scott, risked public safety by making budget cuts to vital parts of the Sheriff's Office while he was chief deputy. Swope has promised to shift money within the sheriff's budget to restore those services if elected, in part by cutting spending at the Safe Harbor homeless shelter. Gualtieri says he has kept the county safe on a reduced revenue stream, and that Swope's campaign pledges show he is out of touch after years away from law enforcement. Greg Pound, a write-in candidate from Largo, is also running. Peter Jamison, Times staff writer

Scott Swope, 43

Attorney

Bob Gualtieri, 51

Pinellas County sheriff

DemocratPartyRepublican
Attorney, Swope Law firm, 2008 to present; Traffic Court magistrate, Pinellas-Pasco Judicial Circuit, 2007-2011 and 2000-2003; attorney, Scott Swope, P.A., 2001-2008; attorney, Gassman Law Associates, P.A., 1998-2001; attorney, Tew, Zinober, Barnes, Zimmet & Unice, 1997-1998; deputy, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, 1988-1994; dispatcher, Largo Police Department, 1986-1988.Experience Pinellas County sheriff, November 2011 to present; chief deputy, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, 2008-2011; general counsel, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, 2006-2008; attorney, Ford Harrison firm (Tampa), 2003-2006; adjunct faculty, St. Petersburg Junior College, 1993-2003; deputy, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, 1984-1998; patrol officer, Dunedin Police Department, 1983-1984; detention deputy, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, 1982-1983.
Law degree, University of Florida Levin College of Law, 1997; bachelor's degree, finance, University of South Florida College of Business, 1994; associate's degree, St. Petersburg College, 1990.EducationLaw degree, Stetson University College of Law, 2002; bachelor's degree, American studies, Eckerd College, 2000.
"The focus of the Sheriff's Office needs to be on public safety matters. I would free up funds for important public safety programs by eliminating three in-house attorney positions, reducing the size of the strategic enforcement unit, reducing the size of the narcotics division, and creating efficiencies in the jail, particularly in inmate health care. There is no organizational or procedural paradigm that would not be subject to scrutiny for potential modification or elimination."What efficiencies would you seek in order to run the Sheriff's Office on a tight budget?"Spending priorities would remain on essential law enforcement services, including technology that saves money by eliminating positions and initiatives that reduce jail recidivism, especially jail diversion and reentry programs. My priorities for efficiencies are functional consolidations, such as merging the PCSO emergency communications center with the county 911 call center. I also support privatizing individual functions where there is a cost savings, where efficiencies can be achieved and service levels are maintained."
"I would reinstate the fugitive section, the DUI enforcement unit, the human trafficking detectives, and the cold case homicide detectives. I would also divide the county into a greater number of zones to allow patrol deputies to work a smaller geographical area, which would allow them to better develop relationships with the residents and business owners in their zone. Zone commanders would have greater flexibility to arrange for coverage. Zone commanders would also be encouraged to utilize innovative strategies to prevent crime."How would you reorganize the Sheriff's Office to improve operations?"I recently added a lieutenant and experienced sergeants to our Administrative Investigations Division ("internal affairs") so that the investigators' case load is reduced and we ensure thoroughness in investigations. I am considering an Inspector General or Outside Auditor position to randomly review internal affairs cases and ensure proper and through investigations are being conducted of citizen complaints. This position would report directly to the Sheriff. The Sheriff's Office command structure is 'flat' with only four Majors (bureau commanders) for over 2,700 employees. However, due to the budget cuts and personnel reductions we have eliminated first line supervisory positions in Patrol Operations and we have fewer than desirable first line supervisors. I have a plan to increase first line supervisors and limit their "span of control" to ensure maximum accountability."
"I believe that a jail diversion program is a good idea, but Safe Harbor was a poor execution of the idea and is not sustainable in its current form. Safe Harbor has turned into a homeless shelter that also houses people charged with minor crimes. Safe Harbor in its current form encourages the cities to criminalize homelessness via enactment of city ordinances so their officers can move the homeless out of the city and transport them to another part of the county. The homeless problem is not solved, it is merely transferred. Additionally, Safe Harbor does nothing for homeless families or children. I believe a better execution of the jail diversion program would have been to create multiple Safe Harbor locations throughout the county."Will you continue operation of Safe Harbor, the Sheriff's Office shelter? And if so, what is your long-term vision of that project?"It is imperative that Safe Harbor continue. I developed Safe Harbor and opened it in January 2011. The average daily population at Safe Harbor is 400 people, most of whom would otherwise be in the jail and the criminal justice system. The average daily cost to house someone at Safe Harbor is $13 and the cost to house someone in the jail is $106 per day. My long-term vision for Safe Harbor is that it be the model homeless jail diversion program in the country. People housed at Safe Harbor and those like them around the county do not belong in jail or the criminal justice system."
NoDo you support the current Sheriff's Office position that Internet cafes are a violation of the state's gambling laws?Yes
Home, interest in law firmAssetsHome, investments
Mortgage, business loanLiabilitiesLine of credit, private student loan
Salary from law firmIncomePinellas County Sheriff's Office salary
A graduate of Largo High School, Swope lives in Palm Harbor with his wife, Margaret Swope. He has two children.PersonalOriginally from Syracuse, N.Y., Gualtieri lives in East Lake and is married to Lauralee Westine. He has three children.
s wopeforsheriff.comWebsite bobforsheriff.com
swopeforsheriff@gmail.comEmailbob@bobforsheriff.com

About the job: The Pinellas County sheriff is responsible for overseeing all operations of the county's largest law enforcement agency. The 2,700 employees of the Sheriff's Office perform law enforcement duties in unincorporated areas of Pinellas County and many Pinellas cities that contract for service. The agency also manages the county jail, which houses a daily average of 3,100 inmates. The sheriff serves a four-year term and is paid $158,000 a year.

Pinellas County sheriff: Scott Swope (D), Bob Gualtieri (R)

Scott Swope, a Democrat who has never held an elected office, is challenging Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who has never been elected to office. In August, Gualtieri claimed the Republican nomination in a hard-fought primary campaign, while Swope obtained his party's nomination uncontested. Swope says Gualtieri, who was appointed in 2011 by Gov. Rick Scott, risked public safety by making budget cuts to vital parts of the Sheriff's Office while he was chief deputy. Swope has promised to shift money within the sheriff's budget to restore those services if elected, in part by cutting spending at the Safe Harbor homeless shelter. Gualtieri says he has kept the county safe on a reduced revenue stream, and that Swope's campaign pledges show he is out of touch after years away from law enforcement. Greg Pound, a write-in candidate from Largo, is also running.

Pinellas County sheriff: Scott Swope (D), Bob Gualtieri (R) 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 3:19pm]

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