Sheriff Knight: Sheriff's Office is "rescuing" city Police Department

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SARASOTA--Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight says the crime rate is lower in the City of Sarasota, because of the men and women wearing the green uniforms. His deputies.

The remarks came in front of Sarasota County Commissioners at a workshop on June 18th.

"I can assure you that we have rescued the City of Sarasota more in the last two months than the previous four years I was Sheriff. We will be rescuing them again in the near future. We are in the city constantly," Knight said.

Knight says the issue is a big concern.

"Is it what we want to do? No. Is it becoming more frequent? Yes. Is it a concern? Is it effecting my overtime? Yes. Yes," said Knight.

Knight did not provide Commissioners with any hard numbers or statistics, but it is accurate that there are less Sarasota Police Officers patrolling the streets now compared to just a few years ago. Budget cuts are to blame. In 2009, there were over 200 officers. Now, there are about 140.

On Thursday morning, Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino responded to Knight's claims.

"I don't think what he said was accurate, and there was no data to back up the information he said," DiPino said.

DiPino and Knight had a one hour closed door meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The Chief says the meeting was very positive and looks forward to working together with the Sheriff's Office as a way of keeping the community safe.