Mayor criticizes relauching of Sarasota Police Foundation

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SARASOTA-- Sarasota's Mayor is criticizing the relaunching of a program designed to generate donations for the the Sarasota Police Department.

"I use the words, slush funds," said Snyder. "We have another sunshine violation. When you are raising money under the Sarasota Police Department, by the police Chief, and it's not done in sunshine, one has to wonder where the funds are going."

Snyder is questioning why he, the rest of the Sarasota City Commission, and the general public were never made aware of the relaunching of the program, before a November 15th press conference held by Chief Bernadette DiPino.

"Whether the intentions are good or not, my question is, if the Chief has budgetary issues, why didn't she bring that up 90 days ago ago at the budget hearings," said Snyder.

The Foundation, established in 2008, has been inactive since that time. It has never raised any money. DiPino says many police department's around the country have similar foundations.

"This is the way a professional law enforcement agency can unite with a private organization to help improve the quality of life of the citizens and keep our citizens safer," said DiPino.

DiPino says none of the money is going directly to the department of herself. A board, made up of five members, will decide how the donations should be spent.

Responding to Snyder's statements, DiPino says she has nothing to hide.

"I just think he doesn't understand what a police foundation is. Once he gets some information and sees some professional, modern organization us this type of organization to help them, he will have a better understanding," said DiPino.

Sarasota attorney Andrea Mogensen tells us she is looking into the evidence as to whether a sunshine violation did occur.

The process is ongoing to find board members for the foundation. A first meeting is scheduled to take place next month,