It may not be surprising how may arrests the Pinellas County Sheriffs make in a single day,
but perhaps it may be surprising to some people the patterns these arrests seem to take. A total of 104 people were arrested by the PCSO on one day, 12-7-19. A quick review showed that this was about an average amount of daily arrests for the PCSO. It seems that for the most part, people are being placed in handcuffs, kidnapped and locked into cages for extremely minor, and in some cases made up charges.
The most shocking revelation is that Sheriff Gualtieri appears to be wagging a war against the homeless. There were no less than 26 homeless people arrested out of the 104 people arrested that one day. Homeless people represent a full 25% of the arrests that day, even though they represent less than 0.0001% of the county’s population. This is just one day so we can imagine how many homeless people Sheriff Gualtieri targets on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. Arresting the homeless is not a solution to homelessness. In fact, arresting the homeless can exacerbate their plight and make recovering from homelessness much more difficult if not impossible. Kick them while they are down, right Sheriff Bob? As Sheriff, I will not be targeting the homeless for arrest, but will instead be offering a variety of solutions geared towards helping all those that want to help themselves end their homelessness. A hand up instead of a boot down.
There were also 25 arrests for drugs. All but two of the arrests were for personal use amounts and in some cases paraphilia. Again, like the homeless, arresting people for addiction will not cure addiction. All this does is give people a criminal record making their lives much more difficult. As Sheriff of Pinellas County in 2020, I will be ending the practice of arresting people for personal use drugs. Instead, we will use some of the $35,000,000 the Sheriff spends (wastes) on these drug arrests and offer treatment options through the PCSO and partnering agencies and organization. Again, a hand up instead of a boot down.
A total of 17 were for DUI. I have no tolerance for people that drink and drive. However, I have seen documentation from multiple people that were arrested by the PCSO even though they had no alcohol in their system at all. In some cases, the PCSO arrested people whose blood test proved they had not been drinking anything. In one case it was a lawyer who had previously expressed displeasure with the PCSO indicating it was yet another retaliatory arrest. Why the false DUI arrests when the 0.8 BAC is supposed to prevent that?
There were also 9 U.S. Marshall “holds” even though it is illegal for a local law enforcement agency to act as a Federal enforcer. There were 7 arrests for trespass, when it is very difficult to criminally trespass. Again, it seems that these numbers are reflecting false arrests. There were also 10 arrests for paperwork infractions, suspended license, etc.. I recently had my driver’s license suspended unbeknownst to me. I had sold one of my cars and cancelled the insurance. The insurance reported that I did not have insurance on the car I just sold and the DMV suspended my license for not having insurance on a car I no longer owned. People should NOT be arrested for these types of “paper” infractions.
There were 9 arrests for “disorderly conduct” and 14 arrests for “resisting” arrest. These two categories of arrest are typically what people refer to as “contempt of cop” arrests. Stand up to a deputy based on your legal rights, land an obstruction charge. Refuse to ID because the law says you don’t have to without probable cause, get arrested for “resisting”. Refuse to allow a search of your car without a warrant, which is your legal right, get arrested. While not all of these 23 arrests may be improper, I am sure some of them are and without body cameras banned by Sheriff Gualtieri, you have no way to defend yourself from these types of charges. When I am elected Sheriff, and I bring in body cameras, you will see these types of arrests drop off significantly because the video will prevent these false arrests.
The bottom line is that about half of these arrests were absolutely unnecessary and served no legitimate purpose. In many cases, these arrests submitted Pinellas citizens and visitors to the worst Pinellas has to offer and they never needed to occur. The waste of taxpayer resources unnecessarily arresting hundreds of people each year steals and wastes millions in taxpayer resources. The arrest process is an outdated archaic concept that should be reserved for the worst of society, not someone who can’t afford a place to live or has an addiction problem.
As Sheriff of Pinellas County in 2020, I will be limiting the use of arrests and end arrests for numerous categories of arrest such as Cannabis enforcement or other minor issues. Police often use an arrest and a trip to jail to retaliate or punish someone they feel has disrespected their authority. That’s not what arrests should be for. Just like the pillory or the rack, it is time to rethink the use of handcuffs and caging human beings for minor offenses.