News-Sun file photo by KATARA SIMMONS Avon Park Police Department Officers will become sworn Highlands County Sheriff's Office Deputies this morning during a ceremony at the Highlands County Courthouse in Sebring.
published: Wednesday, October 03, 2012
15 former APPD officers now sheriff's deputies
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
AVON PARK -- With the Police Benevolent Association's 90-day waiting period over, 15 former Avon Park Police Department officers become deputy sheriffs during a 10 a.m. swearing-in ceremony today at the Highlands County Courthouse.
The 90-day contracted waiting period ensured every individual had an opportunity to settle pension issues before officially leaving the city's employ.
Now the way is clear to move ahead. The Highlands County Sheriff's office took over law enforcement in Avon Park officially Oct. 1.
Sheriff Susan Benton is officiating the ceremony.
"I would like to thank the officers and the city council of Avon Park for their visionary steps to merge law enforcement services," Benton said Tuesday. "I am honored to be part of this venture.
"We are holding a special swearing-in ceremony for the Avon Park police officers as Highlands County sheriff's deputies. This ceremony is a new beginning, one in which financial savings will be realized while ensuring quality service for the residents of Avon Park and Highlands County.
"We are looking forward to welcoming our new members as we all continue towards our vision of a safer Highlands County."
In terms of moving on, not all former officers applied to the sheriff's office, and not all applications were accepted.
Those that were will go through the same cycle of assignments, designed to familiarize them with the county as a whole, that every incoming deputy does. Only then will individuals receive a permanent assignment.
The city council decided to contract with the sheriff in an unanimous vote on Aug. 4, largely because the price of law enforcement has risen dramatically. The city puts aside more than $2 million annually as the result of mandates, training, equipment updates, and rising retirement and insurance costs.
By contracting with the sheriff, the city is expected to save more than $2.45 million over the three years of the contract's life.
Captain Randy LaBelle heads the division responsible for the city, as well as the north end of the county.
The contract was about more than money, the city council and supporters say. Because of its size and additional resources, the Sheriff's Office provides the city with more depth of service, and greater opportunities for the deputies themselves. In addition, the Sheriff's Office is an accredited agency.
no sense (by: disenchanted - 10/7/2012)
So these people were not fit to be policeman for Avon Park; corrupt and unfit was thrown around often. However, now that they are a green uniform they will be fair and capable. Oh yes, the money we are saving; I haven't forgot that part; even though we had money in the city budget to maintain our police department. I do hope this works out. I have a friend who lives in Frostproof and they say response time can now be quite lengthy because these officers are not only partrolling the city limits but also the outside county incorporates.
Do you feel safer? (by: AP Resident - 10/7/2012)
Do you feel safer when you are in AP? At night, with your kids? After a problem? Just a question. If there is no doubt, no concern, then there is nothing to worry about and this a good move. It was comforting to see the black and whites after dark. At the schools.
AP sheriff deputies (by: Coach Hunter - 10/5/2012)
While it is at the same time said to see APPD gone, it is a new level of change for the city of Avon Park. Can't speak for anyone particularly, and only GOD can judge, however I'm happy and proud of the 15 deputies selected. It is a fresh start for all of you...No matter the hot blood in the past or what the city was concerned about don't forget, "You are still repping the red (Avon Park) and the city loves you all...Despite what people say about particular officers, I am glad to see officer SAPP who saved my life, and one of my 2 dearest of friends Bates, and Vinnie (respectively).....Glad to have you in the green, and I will be praying and looking back at you all in action....Sincerely your number one fan...Coach Hunter...
Answer poster's questions (by: AP Resident - 10/4/2012)
Sam, two not hired had criminal records of their own, which the county didn't allow.
Waiting Period? (by: Fortune400 - 10/4/2012)
"With the Police Benevolent Association's 90-day waiting period over..." I think the vote by city admistrators was August 4, 2012. 90 days waiting period should be November 4, 2012. So, the 90 day waiting period is not over.
Good move (by: Sam Schultz - 10/3/2012)
What reason was given for those that did not get hired?
Avon Park Police (by: Sam the black man - 10/3/2012)
Sheriff Susan Benton is going to clean the town up ...Good for her .
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