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Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas County Awarded the PERF Leadership Award

October 22, 2020

The Florida Sheriffs Association is proud to announce that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has been awarded the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) Leadership Award. PERF’s Leadership Award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of law enforcement. The PERF Leadership Award recognizes an individual who exemplifies the highest principles and standards of a true leader in policing on a national level. The award recognizes innovators whose efforts serve as a model to the law enforcement community and whose vision of policing can be applied on a wide scale. Sheriff Gualtieri is the first sheriff to ever win this award.

Sheriff Gualtieri has created many new initiatives that have received national attention, including:

  • Pinellas Safe Harbor, an emergency homeless shelter and jail diversion program that provides services to persons experiencing homelessness and keeps them out of the criminal justice system;
  • An Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion program, which keeps minor-crime, first-time offenders out of jail;
  • A Mental Health Unit that diverts people to the mental health system rather than the criminal justice system;
  • Operation HOME (Habitual Offender Monitoring Enforcement), a countywide effort to reduce teen crime; and
  • A School Guardian Unit to ensure safer K-12 campuses in Pinellas County.

PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler said, “PERF’s Board of Directors chose Sheriff Gualtieri for this award because he has demonstrated national leadership on many pressing issues. His remarkable work in launching the Safe Harbor jail diversion program and building a facility to house homeless persons has been recognized in PERF reports about innovations in policing. This award recognizes the importance of the role of sheriffs like Sheriff Gualtieri in developing humane policies on issues of mental health and jail diversion.”

Sheriff Gualtieri was recognized for this award in part due to his response to his leadership as the Chair of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission. Led by Sheriff Gualtieri, the commission issued a 500-page report that provided recommendations to the Florida Legislature on how to prevent a future tragedy in Florida’s public schools. The Commission’s recommendations became the cornerstone for the legislative changes that were implemented in 2019 – changes aimed at increasing school safety, reducing school violence, and ensuring our children come home safe each night.

“Through the Commission’s great work, Florida is now in a better position to respond to and mitigate future violence and mass shootings at our children’s schools,” said FSA President and Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz. “Our children’s schools are safer now more than ever because of the diligent work of the Commission and Sheriff Gualtieri’s leadership.”

“Sheriff Gualtieri has led his office to adapt new and innovative solutions to complex problems,” said FSA Executive Director Steve Casey.  “FSA would like to thank the leaders of the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit association of progressive police professionals dedicated to improving services to all our communities, for honoring one of our own Florida sheriffs for this prestigious award.”

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Florida Sheriffs Association:

The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of the Sheriffs of Florida, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 90,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has steadfastly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and funded the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. It has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit