Police Chief changes department's arrest policy

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SARASOTA - If a police supervisor had reviewed Jon Hill's case moments after his arrest, he may not have ended up in jail.

Hill, a homeless man, was charged earlier this month for soliciting funds, an ordinance that was repealed by Sarasota's City Commission days earlier.

To make sure an incident like this one doesn't happen again, the city's new Police Chief, Bernadette DiPino, is laying down the law. Supervisors are now being asked to look over all probable cause affidavits immediately after an arrest takes place.

"I'm just asking that this be reviewed in a quicker manner so we can determine the appropriate charges are made or that the person was arrested appropriately," said Chief DiPino.

Before the policy shift, supervisors could sometimes take hours and hours to review the reports.

 "This is just one of the processes I am bringing into the Sarasota Police Department to have some accountability and to make sure we are doing the things the right way," the Chief said.

It's encouraging news says attorney Andrea Mogensen, who represents Hill and the ACLU.

"The new Chief seems to be sensitive and has expressed sensitivity to the problems in the community. Hopefully, with that change of leadership, we will see a different attitude from the supervisor level---down," said Mogensen.

That policy shift went into effect late last week. As for Mr. Hill and his arrest, an internal police investigation is being conducted to determine why it happened.