As Pinellas County, Florida, grows in popularity, they need a hero to protect their citizens. Enter Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. Gualtieri has been a force for good in multiple ways throughout his time in the public spotlight, creating a positive environment in Pinellas County. With his dedication and leadership, Sheriff Gualtieri has been one of the driving forces in reducing crime and keeping children in Pinellas County safe during his time as sheriff.
Today, we’d like to shine a light on the incredible efforts and progress that Sheriff Gualtieri has made and dive into the background of such an esteemed official. Join us as we delve into this local hero who has provided safety and security to all members of Pinellas County.
Get to Know Pinellas County
Pinellas County is home to 24 cities on the west coast of Florida, with St. Petersburg being its most prominent in terms of population. The area is home to Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays and world-famous beaches in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Indian Rocks.
Image Link / Credit: https://www.floridasmart.com/local/counties/pinellas
With an increased popularity due to the warm weather, fantastic beaches, and one of Major League Baseball’s best teams, there’s always a new opportunity for crime. However, with the trust and actions of Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, permanent residents and tourists alike can be assured that their safety is paramount.
Get to Know Sheriff Bob Gualtieri
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri started his career with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in 1982, serving as a detention deputy for the county jail. After a year with the Dunedin Police Department, he rejoined the PCSO as a patrol deputy and detective until his departure in 1998, when he went to Stetson University College of Law, the first law school in Florida.
In 2006, Gualtieri returned to PCSO to serve as General Counsel under Sheriff Jim Coats and was appointed Chief Deputy in 2008.
In 2011, Gualtieri was appointed sheriff by then-Governor Rick Scott to replace retiring Sheriff Coats. Gualtieri was elected by the people in 2012 and subsequently won reelections in 2016 and 2020.
In 2018, Gualtieri was appointed chairman of the Majority Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission following the tragic school shooting that took place earlier that year. Gualtieri still holds that position to this day.
Under his watch, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has taken significant steps to protect children’s safety, battle sex trafficking, and bring more service to Pinellas County than ever.
Despite not being born in Florida, Sheriff Gualtieri’s education came in the Sunshine State. Gualtieri studied undergrad at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, followed up with a law degree from Stetson University College of Law.
Sheriff Gualtieri is permitted to practice law in all Florida courts before the US Supreme Court, the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Court, and the United States District Court for the Northern, Middle, and Southern Districts of Florida.
Sheriff Gualtieri has been awarded with numerous prestigious recognitions. Here are some awards that Sheriff Gualtieri has obtained due to his outstanding service:
- 2014 Crisis Intervention Team International Sheriff of the Year
- 2017 FSA President’s Award
- 2018 NSA President’s Award
- 2019 National Sheriffs’ Association Sheriff of the Year
- 2019 Homeland Security Leadership Award
- 2019 Stetson University Distinguished Alumni Award
- 2020 Police Executive Research Forum Leadership Award
- 2022 Major County Sheriffs of America Sheriff of the Year
Community Impact | Protecting Children in Florida
Throughout his decade-plus as sheriff, Sheriff Gualtieri has prioritized protecting children in Pinellas County and all of Florida. Many of Gualitieri’s achievements in protecting children have been widely recognized, and he always strives to create an ideal environment for the kids of Pinellas County. Subsequently, Gualtieri also saw opportunities to help children all across Florida as one of the main proponents of school safety after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Here are just a few of the many ways Gualitieri has created a safer environment for children in Pinellas County:
- Combating Sex Trafficking and Child Exploitation: Back in 2013, Sheriff Gualtieri created a Special Victims Unit to focus on local human trafficking. Many lives were changed in both 2013 and 2015, with two major operations.Aside from his own special victims unit, the Sexual Predator and Offender Tracking (SPOT) was created in 2000 to combat the growing number of predators and offenders in the county. This unit is responsible for tasks such as initial registration, neighborhood notifications, community awareness, and others.
- Ensuring Children’s Safety: Gualtieri is currently the MSD Public Safety Commission chair. In 2019, the commission issued a 500-page record, which saw significant changes in school safety across the state. Gualtieri has been nationally recognized for his work on school safety, including a Guardian unit to ensure safe and secure K-12 campuses all across Pinellas County.
- Service to the Community: During Gualtieri’s time as sheriff, Pinellas County has experienced decreased crime, as the county has become one of the safest counties in the state and the nation. The county jail population has also been significantly reduced through the following initiatives:
- Pinellas Safe Harbor
- Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion program
- A Mental Health Unit
- Operation HOME (Habitual Offender Monitoring Enforcement)
- School Guardian Unit
- Threat Management Division
Backing Up A Promise
Sheriff Gualtieri isn’t someone who makes empty promises; he’s made a career of following up on his goals. Specifically with his promise regarding the safety of children and combating sex trafficking. From 2011 to 2013, Sheriff Gualtieri pledged the importance of combating sex trafficking and keeping children safe. In 2013, Gualtieri was the leader behind the creation of a new Special Victims Unit, focusing on local human trafficking. Here are some of the biggest instances of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office changing lives for the better:
May 2013: Three individuals were accused of running a trafficking ring with two girls under 18. Separately, a 28-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking.
September 2013: A 21-year-old woman was arrested and pleaded guilty of conspiring to engage in child sex trafficking.
November 2013: Pinellas County deputies arrested and charged a 60-year-old woman with trafficking a 14-year-old girl.
April 2015: A 22-year-old man from Palm Harbor was arrested by Pinellas County deputies and charged with human trafficking of a 16-year-old girl.
November 2022: A 27-year-old man was charged with several offenses, including human trafficking and several other child-related offenses.
Focus on Personnel
Throughout 2022 and 2023, Sheriff Gualtieri has noted that this is “the year of the employee.” He has made an unwavering commitment to increasing the funding of programs like the PCSO’s Mental Health Unit and Crisis Response Specialists, striving to get officers the help they need and to create a safe and secure work environment. The deputy starting pay during FY2022 was one of the lowest in the state, another hurdle that Sheriff Gualitieri is focused on conquering.
Based in Tampa, our team advocates for restoring stolen childhoods across Florida. We strive to combat domestic minor sex trafficking through our restoration programs for rescued victims by providing therapeutic, safe homes for victims. Aside from providing healing services to victims, Bridging Freedom also works to educate the local community about the horrors of human trafficking in Florida.
Through partnerships with local law enforcement leaders, such as Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Sheriff Grady Judd, Bridging Freedom helps provide victims with a safe place and connect them to necessary recovery resources. To allow us to continue our work, Bridging Freedom relies upon the generosity and collaboration of our donors. If you want to donate, please visit the donation webpage here.