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Amazing Woman of the Suncoast: Police Chief Bernadette Dipino

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Sarasota police chief Bernadette Dipino was born and raised in Baltimore.

"I wanted to be a police officer ever since I was a little girl," says Depino. "My dad was a police officer and he was my hero and I heard all the stories he and my grandfather would tell and it was something I was fascinated with."

But Bernadette's dad felt law enforcement was too dangerous. He wanted her to be a lawyer, but fate intervened.

"An opportunity to join the Baltimore police force came and I promised my dad I would continue to go to school but I wanted to take that opportunity to become a police officer."

She was a Baltimore police officer for three years and won the respect of her fellow officers.

"I think police officers everywhere are looking to see if you can handle yourself and as soon as you are able to prove yourself handle a call or back them up on a call."

She became a narcotics detective.

"Then I moved to Ocean City and continued to do narcotics and then started getting promoted."

She became a member of the SWAT team.

"I was the first woman on our team in Ocean City and the commander of our team. I was on the team ten years and commander for four."

She's never had to shoot anyone but she's had to fight.

"I've been in big fights, big bar fights, arresting people when working as a narcotics officer, you had to fight them to put them under arrest ."

And she moved up the ranks. Ten years later, she was named Sarasota's police chief. Her father and grandfather were here to see her sworn in. Her daughter is a police officer in Baltimore.

" She is amazing. She's been on the force in Baltimore for 11 years. She was named officer of the year twice by two community organizations."

And of course as her mother she worries.

"Being a very prayful and religious person, I pray for her and put her in God's hands."

Chief DiPino believes in community policing.

"We go out and develop partnerships and trust in the community."

Her life lesson she learned from her dad. He taught her being a police officer is about self-satisfaction.

"You can't demand on others to thank you or give you awards. As long as you know you've done the best you can and you can look at yourself in the mirror, that's' what this job in law enforcement is about."