2021 marked our centennial year of service to Charlotte County, and I received the honor of again being sworn in as your sheriff to lead this agency. The year was not without challenges, as COVID continued to wreak havoc on all of us, but there were some other positive moments worth noting. As 2021 comes to a close, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on some of those more memorable moments of the year.
One of the biggest stories of 2021 was our implementation of body-worn cameras. I made a commitment to have this accomplished by year-end. I am proud to say that every road patrol deputy and vehicle has now been equipped with a camera. This process was very involved, including obtaining funding, company research, in-field trials, hardware and software purchasing, training, distribution, and troubleshooting.
Another major story this year was the launch of our new IRIS (Integrated Response for Intervention and Support) Team. This specialized unit was created to focus on the mental health-related calls for service, including drug overdoses, suicide threats, habitual runaway juveniles, well-being checks, death notifications, and more. To provide the best and most appropriate services, we have partnered with Charlotte Behavioral Health Care to include a Mental Health Clinician and will soon be including a Charlotte County Fire and EMS paramedic as well.
Several units of the CCSO were highlighted throughout the year for their high level of service. Our Aviation team continues to excel, providing mosquito control, fire suppression, missing person, and long-line rescue services. The K9 unit added a new element to their repertoire with the addition of the scent kits and have had many successful tracks which resulted in the reunification of lost loved ones to their families. Our Communications team continue to earn recognition for their efforts that have led to countless lives being saved, and the Marine unit has been called upon to brave even the harshest conditions in order to preserve safety. The list goes on and on, but the theme is the same: the CCSO is dedicated to keeping this community safe.
Be sure to follow our social media pages and keep an eye out for our upcoming “Year in Review” video from my Community Affairs Team. That video will share a lot more of our successes of 2021 and elaborate on some of the ones I have listed.
As we look ahead now to 2022, there is still much work to be done. I am as determined as ever to battle the drug crisis and help those who want to get control over their lives. I will continue to seek new, proactive approaches to keeping crime out of Charlotte County so we can all continue to enjoy what God has blessed us with.
Stay strong, stay safe, and never quit!