Attorney General William Barr has appointed Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and the state’s top prosecutor to a national law enforcement commission created by President Donald Trump.
Gualtieri and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, both Republicans, are two of the 18 members that will join the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, Barr’s office announced Wednesday.
The commission will “explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime," according to a Department of Justice statement.
The commission will meet monthly for a year, then report findings to the attorney general. Barr will then present those findings to the president.
Trump issued an executive order in October calling for the attorney general to form the commission. It will examine law enforcement issues such as mental health, recruitment and retention, and "Refusals by State and local prosecutors to enforce laws or prosecute categories of crimes ... "
Joining Gualtieri and Moody are law enforcement officials ranging from the deputy director of the FBI to sheriffs in North Carolina and Alabama to the police chief of Wichita, Kan.
“It’s something that is much needed and something that there’s a great opportunity to influence and make a difference on where law enforcement and criminal justice is going in the future," Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.
Moody, the only state attorney general on the commission, said in a statement that she was honored to serve on the commission and emphasized her office’s focus on mental health and the opioid crisis.
"I look forward to working with Attorney General Barr and my fellow Commissioners to identify strategies and innovative solutions to help reduce crime, support our law enforcement officers and protect the American people,” Moody said.
The appointment is another step up for the Pinellas sheriff’s rising political profile. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, as governor, appointed the sheriff to lead a school safety commission formed in the wake of the 2018 shooting attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Gualtieri has also taken a lead role in the state and national conversations about immigration enforcement, stand-your-ground self-defense laws and police use of force.
Gualtieri has been sheriff since 2011, when Scott appointed the former chief deputy to succeed Pinellas Sheriff Jim Coats. Gualtieri was elected in 2012, re-elected in 2016 and has filed to run again in 2020. He is also president of the Florida Sheriffs Association.