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Sheriff Jeff Dawsy struck an ebullient note about his four terms as the chief public safety officer in Citrus County.
During his visit with the Chronicle Editorial Board early this week, Dawsy rattled off several of his agency’s successes and described his opponent in this fall’s election, Winn Webb, as ill-prepared for the job.
Dawsy touted some of the following achievements of his tenure:
n One of the lowest per capita law enforcement costs in the state, $237 per person compared to the state average of $580 person, according to Florida TaxWatch.
* He reduced the agency’s budget yearly for the past five years — saving more than $4 million for the taxpayers.
* He merged the sheriff’s office with fire services, expanding services by adding three more fully staffed fire stations without adding to the budget. He also added nine more firefighters without adding to the budget.
* He introduced a crime-fighting method called Intelligence Led Policing (ILP), which has led to a sharp reduction in crime. Overall crime, he said, is down 12 percent since 1998.
Dawsy answered questions about a wide range of topics including the state of two high-profile homicide investigations into the deaths of purported confidential informant Jamie Seeger and the officer-involved shooting death of Derrick Vaccianna.
The investigation in the Seeger case is “extremely focused,” but he said his agency will solve it. He is unsure when that will happen. In the Vaccianna case, Dawsy said the Florida Law Enforcement Agency (FDLE) is working all angles on the case and his agency is awaiting information.
Dawsy also addressed claims his employees may be under duress to support his candidacy because an employee was soliciting funds, during private time, for an advertisement supportive of Dawsy.
“I think that is the most absurd thing. No one is under any kind of pressure to support me,” Dawsy said.
Dawsy also said despite his opponent’s claims about a spike in crime rates, Webb is not painting a clear picture.
He said Webb relies entirely on FDLE’s Uniform Crime Report, or UCR, and then compares those numbers to the rest of the state.
He said UCR numbers are not a clear indication of what is going on in any particular county because the figures, for instance, do not include Internet crimes and drug arrests.
Dawsy said the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is currently No. 2 in the state for methamphetamine arrests and has been aggressively pursuing and disrupting a lot of other drug operations, but those numbers are not reflected in the UCR reports.
He called Webb, who is an outgoing county commissioner, a policymaker with zero management experience and “no formal education.”
“I have a master’s degree in business administration and BA in criminal justice. He (Webb) began his career as a patrol deputy and ended it as a deputy. He was good, but he never held a management position. He did not prepare himself to be a CEO of an agency that has many tentacles,” Dawsy said.
“It’s about leadership and I run the organization well. I guess the question is, who would you rather have as leader of this agency?”
Chronicle reporter A.B. Sidibe can be reached at 352-564-2925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.