Sarasota Police Department 2014 Promotion & Awards Ceremony March 25, 2015

SARASOTA, Fla. – March 23, 2015 – 8:15 a.m.

The Sarasota Police Department will hold the 2014 Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. in the 2nd Floor Community Room of the Sarasota Police Department. Friends, family, community members and the media are welcome to attend!

Designated awards will include:

• Officer of the Year
• Civilian of the Year
• Sworn Supervisor of the Year
• Medal of Valor
• Meritorious Service Medal
• Life Saving Media
• Unit Commendation
• Unit Citation
• Several Citizen Certificates of Merit

The following promotions will also be recognized:
• Lieutenant Kevin Stiff to the rank of Captain
• Sergeant Robert Resch to the rank of Lieutenant
• Officer First Class Jeff Ball to the rank of Sergeant
• Officer First Class Charles Riffe to the rank of Sergeant
• Officer Second Class Michael Schultz to Officer First Class

We ask those planning to attend to please arrive at 2:15 p.m. so the ceremony can begin on time.

Sarasota Police to host ‘Coffee with a Cop’ on Monday, March 16th at 10:30 a.m.

SARASOTA, Fla. – March 10, 2015 – 2:30 p.m.

On Monday, March 16, 2015, officers from the Sarasota Police Department and community members will come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships, and drink coffee.

All community members and media are invited to attend. The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Monday, March 16, 2015 at McDonald’s, 787 S. Washington Blvd, Sarasota.

Coffee with a Cop provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s work in Sarasota’s neighborhoods.

The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street. Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.

"We hope that our community members will feel comfortable to ask questions, bring concerns or simply gets to know our officers," said Chief Bernadette DiPino. "These interactions are the foundation of partnerships with our community."

Coffee with a Cop is a national initiative supported by The United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Similar events are being held across the county, as local police departments strive to make lasting connections with the communities they serve.

The program aims to advance the practice of community policing through improving relationships between police officers and community members one cup of coffee at a time.

Lane & Road Closures for Sarasota Half Marathon on Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Sarasota Half Marathon will be held on Sunday, March 15, 2015.  The run will include a Half-Marathon only.  The run will begin at 7 a.m. and end at approximately 11 a.m. 

Drivers, residents and spectators are asked to have patience before, during and after the race with lane closures. The run will begin at the Van Wezel parking lot and follow a route south to Gulfstream Avenue, west over the Ringling Bridge, around St. Armands Circle and west to Washington Drive, back around St. Armands Circle and returning east to the mainland and back to U.S. 41 North to University Parkway, west to Bayshore Road, south on Bayshore Road, on to Sylvan Drive before returning to the Van Wezel.

Since runners will be sharing the roadway along the route, there will be temporary lane closures at the following locations:

• Southbound – U.S. 41 from University Parkway to Gulfstream Ave
• Gulfstream Avenue and John Ringling Blvd at U.S. 41
• Westbound – John Ringling from U.S. 41 to St. Armands Circle
• Eastbound – John Ringling from St. Armands Circle to Bayfront Drive (Starting at US 41, both Westbound lanes of John Ringling that go over the Ringling Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic; Westbound side of Ringling Bridge for racers – East/West traffic will be shared on eastbound lanes from US 41 to St. Armands Circle)

• Southbound – U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Ave, beach traffic will be directed into one lane for westbound turns
• Northbound – U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Ave, there will only be one turn lane for beach traffic. Second turn lane will be closed.

Boaters wanting to use the Centennial Park and Boat Ramp (10th Street Boat Ramp) are being asked to drive to Cocoanut Avenue and then to 10th Street to enter off 10th Street and not North Tamiami Trail.

Drivers are urged to use caution during this event. Drivers can expect delays due to the temporary lane closures and the increase of traffic volume during the late morning hours. Neighborhoods affected by the race course are being asked to plan according. Sarasota Police officers and volunteers will be posted along the route to assist motorists and residents in congested areas and to ensure the safety of the Half Marathon participants.


Joint Unlicensed Activity Investigation Leads to Arrest in Sarasota

SARASOTA, Fla. – March 9, 2015 – 10:30 a.m.

Kristina Marie Balen, 30, of 60th Street Circle East, Sarasota, has been arrested and charged with felony unlicensed practice of health care professional and felony criminal use of personal identification information. The Sarasota Police Department worked in conjunction with Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) St. Petersburg Unlicensed Activity (ULA) Unit.

Balen’s charge of unlicensed practice of a healthcare profession (Nursing) is a third degree felony and punishable by a fine of $1,000 and a minimum mandatory period of incarceration of 1 year. Balen was also charged with the criminal use of personal identification information which is a third degree felony.

In late February, the management for Sarasota Arthritis discovered medication worth $1800 had been stolen. During the investigation, it was discovered Balen, who was employed as a Registered Nurse (RN) did not have a valid RN License through the DOH.

During Balen’s employment with Sarasota Arthritis, her job duties included rooming patients, gathering internal medical information and computer entry. Balen also administered arthritis medications, flu vaccines and submitted prescriptions electronically.

Balen was arrested on Friday, March 6, 2015 and was booked into the Sarasota County Jail. Balen has since bonded out.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call Detective Kim Laster at 941-364-7327 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS (8477) or online at

Kristina Marie Balen, 30, of 60th Street Circle East, Sarasota, has been arrested and charged with felony unlicensed practice of health care professional and felony criminal use of personal identification information

Kristina Marie Balen, 30, of 60th Street Circle East, Sarasota, has been arrested and charged with felony unlicensed practice of health care professional and felony criminal use of personal identification information

Sarasota man arrested & charged after trading pornographic images of child

SARASOTA, Fla. – March 6, 2015 – 9 a.m.

Detectives with the Sarasota Police Department have arrested and charged Dannie Ray Horner, 34, of Sarasota. This comes after Horner sexually battered a 1 year-old child, took naked photos of that child and traded those pornographic images online with people in Argentina, Australia and West Virginia.

Horner has been charged with:

• Felony sexual battery (Victim under 12, Suspect over 18)

• Felony sexual performance by a child – Production of child pornography

• Felony transmission of pornography by electronic device

• Felony battery of a child by expelling certain fluids of materials

If convicted, Horner could face life in prison.

Sarasota Police Detective Megan Buck is the lead detective on the case and is part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation Task Force. Detective Buck worked with other members of the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force including Detective Kevin Bunch from the Bradenton Police Department. Detective Buck also worked with the Department of Homeland Security, Sarasota Police Department Street Crimes Unit and members of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

"This case is an example that evil exists in this world," said Detective Sergeant Tom Shanafelt.  "But thanks to the hard work and dedication of the men and women of the Sarasota Police Department and our partnering agencies, this monster is behind bars.  Let this be a warning that the Sarasota Police Department will not tolerate this behavior when we become aware of it.  We will restlessly investigate those responsible for it to the full extent of the law," said Shanafelt.

  Dannie Ray Horner, 34, of Sarasota


Dannie Ray Horner, 34, of Sarasota

City Commission Unanimously Approves Honorary Street Dedication for Officer Warren David Jones

SARASOTA, Fla. – March 3, 2015 – 1:30 p.m.

Sarasota Police Officer Warren David Jones was shot and killed in the line of duty in the City of Sarasota on April 5, 1975. Officer Jones was with the Sarasota Police Department for two years and is the only officer killed in the line of duty in the 113 year history of the department.

On Monday night, the Sarasota City Commission unanimously approved an honorary street dedication for Officer Jones.  The honorary street dedication is to commemorate his service to the public on the 40th anniversary of his death which will be April 5, 2015.  Up to four (4) signs will be placed along Adams Lane, near the Sarasota Police Department, for the dedication, between Links Avenue and East Avenue in Sarasota.  This will come at no cost to the City of Sarasota.  The Southwest Florida Police Benevolent Association has agreed to cover all costs associated with the dedication.

On April 5, 1975, Officer Jones was shot and killed with his own firearm after struggling with Henry Lee Washington. Washington was stealing gas from an area station at 1450 Mango Street when Officer Jones noticed Washington’s vehicle parked next to the fuel storage.  Officer Jones made contact with Washington and attempted to arrest him but while handcuffing him, Washington was able to gain control of Officer Jones’ firearm.  After a struggle, Officer Jones was shot in the chest.  Officer Jones attempted to make it back to his patrol car to call for backup but Washington beat Jones with his flashlight. Officer Jones died from his injuries the same night.  Washington fled the area and was found in Fort Myers and committed suicide several days later.

There is a video on the Sarasota Police Department YouTube page at with the story of the incident from 1975 as told by Officer Jon Vanik.

Sarasota Police Officer Warren David Jones was shot and killed in the line of duty in the City of Sarasota on April 5, 1975

Sarasota Police Officer Warren David Jones was shot and killed in the line of duty in the City of Sarasota on April 5, 1975