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Pinellas sheriff elected president of state law enforcement group

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is the new president of the Florida Sheriffs Association. In this July 2018 file photo, Gualtieri discusses the controversial shooting of Markeis McGlockton and Florida’s stand your ground self-defense law during a news conference at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Administration Building in Largo. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is the new president of the Florida Sheriffs Association. In this July 2018 file photo, Gualtieri discusses the controversial shooting of Markeis McGlockton and Florida’s stand your ground self-defense law during a news conference at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Administration Building in Largo. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Jul. 31, 2019

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is the new president of an association representing sheriffs across the state.

Members of the Florida Sheriffs Association voted for their new board of directors Monday during a conference in Tampa. Gualtieri, 57, was previously the association's vice president and has represented the group in Tallahassee as the legislative committee chair.

Also on the new board are Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis as chair, Nassau Sheriff Bill Leeper as vice chair, Gilchrist Sheriff Bobby Schultz as vice president, Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight as secretary and Levy Sheriff Bobby McCallum as treasurer.

The position is another milestone in what has been an eventful few years in Gualtieri's career.

Last year, former Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to lead a state commission investigating the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Gualtieri has maintained a leading role in formation of state and national immigration policy when it comes to undocumented immigrants accused of crimes.

His work in both areas was highlighted by the National Sheriffs Association when the group named him Sheriff of the Year in April.

The sheriff also made national headlines last year when he declined to arrest Michael Drejka in the parking lot shooting death of Markeis McGlockton, saying his hands were tied by Florida's controversial stand-your-ground law.

Gualtieri started at the Sheriff's Office in 1982 as a detention deputy. After a brief stint at the now-defunct Dunedin Police Department, he returned to the Sheriff's Office and eventually made a name for himself working as a narcotics detective specializing in wiretaps.

He left the agency to enroll at Stetson University College of Law in 2000 and went on to work in private practice. He returned to his home agency in 2006 as general counsel.

Former Gov. Scott appointed him sheriff in 2011 after former Sheriff Jim Coats stepped down to care for his ailing wife. Pinellas voters elected him in 2012 and again in 2016.

He previously told the Tampa Bay Times he plans to run again in 2020.

Contact Kathryn Varn at kvarn@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow @kathrynvarn.