Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bob Gualtieri sworn in as Pinellas County Sheriff

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, 50, right, acknowledges applause moments after he was sworn in as sheriff by Chief Judge Thomas McGrady, background, during a ceremony Wednesday.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, 50, right, acknowledges applause moments after he was sworn in as sheriff by Chief Judge Thomas McGrady, background, during a ceremony Wednesday.

LARGO — Pinellas County got a new sheriff Wednesday.

Bob Gualtieri, 50, was sworn in during a 25-minute ceremony in a courtroom packed with public officials, friends, family and community leaders. Thomas McGrady, chief judge of the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, administered the oath of office.

"I can attest he is an outstanding public servant with a remarkable character," said outgoing Sheriff Jim Coats, who introduced Gaultieri at the ceremony. "He is a very, very bright individual. … In some ways, he's been a great mentor to me."

Gov. Rick Scott appointed Gualtieri, who had been the agency's chief deputy for several years, to the post last month after Coats announced he was retiring to be with his wife as she battles cancer. Gualtieri will serve out the rest of Coats' term until January 2013. He also is a Republican candidate for the same position in the 2012 election.

He answered a few questions before he was sworn in.

Can residents of Pinellas County expect to see a difference between you and the previous sheriff?

There's so many similarities. As far as the daily operation of the Sheriff's Office, and some of the big programs and crime prevention, they won't see a difference, because we are aligned in that. We share the same core focus. We are very focused not only on public service, but also customer service. I believe law enforcement's role should not just be reactive.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing our community and your agency?

Prescription pills. It is the No. 1 public safety issue we face. Another significant issue that we have is the budget and managing the jail population. … Navigating through the last four years has been like navigating through a tsunami. We've cut $108 million from our budget, eliminated more than 600 positions. … Those are such big challenges, and we have navigated it successfully. I'm not taking the salary increase that comes with being sheriff. The members of the Sheriff's Office have not had a pay increase for four years, and I need to stand shoulder to shoulder with them. (State law sets a sheriff's salary at $158,000; Gaultieri said he will keep his current salary of $152,000).

What are your new plans for the agency?

We have some things we're working on, especially in the area of the prescription drugs epidemic. I want to make sure we're doing everything we can to reverse that trend. It's the No. 1 issue. It permeates throughout our calls for service every day. We've got to do something about it.

How do you plan to balance being sheriff and a candidate?

It's a matter of working hard and working long days and long hours. I'm confident I can do it. There's different times of the day for different activities. My first priority is being the best sheriff I can be for Pinellas County.

Are you nervous?

I wouldn't say I'm nervous. I want do the absolute best job that I can. Having managed the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff's Office for the past four years, I feel very comfortable where I am, and if I have any concerns, it's navigating the budget challenges.

What do you do when you're not at work?

I love sports. The Rays, Lightning and Bucs — I go to all three of 'em. I like going to the gym and working out. I have a 6-year-old daughter at home — she keeps me busy.

>>Fast facts

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri

Age: 50

Family: Wife, Lauralee Westine, daughters Jordanna, 22; Christina, 20; Lauren, 6.

Career: Started as a Pinellas County Jail deputy in 1982. Held various jobs at the Dunedin Police Department and Pinellas Sheriff's Office before leaving to get a law degree. Returned to Sheriff's Office in 2006 and spent the last several years as the agency's chief deputy.

Bob Gualtieri sworn in as Pinellas County Sheriff 11/09/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011 12:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.