Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino
SARASOTA, Florida - For the first time, the Sarasota Police Department is trying a strategy to help a select group of drug offenders turn their lives around.
The department just ended Operation Cracked Sidewalk, which started back in January. The purpose was to target street level drug dealers for the Drug Market Intervention Plan. The DMI area was Leon Avenue on the west, to North Washington Boulevard to the east, 21st Street to the south and 32nd Street to the north.
The operation led to the arrest of 39 people. Six offenders have been selected for the DMI plan.
The strategy is to try to change the lives of the group of non-violent, basic street level offenders by deferring prosecution and offering rehab programs and help, with things like education and jobs. Authorities hope it will push them in a more positive direction.
"We're going to embrace these individuals because we believe they can really be a valuable asset to our community. And we care about helping them get onto the right road," said Chief Bernadette DiPino.
Sarasota police officials know it'll take the whole community to make it happen.
Police want to stress that the program will not apply to everyone, and they'll continue to take a strong stance when it comes to violent, habitual offenders.