Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri was one of 18 named to the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.
Attorney General William P. Barr announced the establishment of the new presidential commission on Jan. 22.
The other commissioners, appointed by Barr, include Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, as well as a mix of urban police chiefs, state prosecutors, county sheriffs, members of rural law enforcement, federal agents and U.S. attorneys.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Oct. 28, 2019, authorizing and designating the Attorney General to create a commission to explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime.
"I am honored to participate on this presidential commission and I'm looking forward to working with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and other leaders from across the country in this meaningful appointment," Gualtieri said in a media release.
Moody said in a separate statement that she too is honored to serve on the commission and pledged to “work every day to further this worthy mission.”
The mission includes researching current issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system, such as the challenges associated with mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse and other social factors that affect crime and criminal justice resources, as well as issues with recruitment, training and retention of law enforcement officers and others.
Gualtieri has spoken about these problems having an effect in Pinellas. He has asked the Pinellas County Commission for more money over the past few years to provide pay raises to make the sheriff’s office more competitive to help recruit more deputies. The sheriff’s office also pays for prospective deputies to attend the police academy.
The sheriff and the county commission have been working to combat the issues associated with mental illness and homelessness for years. Pinellas Safe Harbor, the sheriff’s jail diversion program for the homeless, is one example of Gualtieri’s work to find solutions. He also created an adult pre-arrest diversion program and implementing a Mental Health Unit.
Gualtieri has recently received other national recognition. He was named the 2019 Sheriff of the Year by the National Sheriff’s Association. Statewide, he was picked to chair the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission established in 2018.
The presidential commission will meet monthly for the next year and then report its findings to the Attorney General, who will submit a final report to the president.
Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.