Frequently I am approached by citizens who are curious about the operation of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Oftentimes these same people are interested in getting involved, but they are unsure how they can do so. My response almost always includes an invitation to consider becoming a member of the Sheriff's Advisory Board.
The Sheriff's Advisory Board is a not-for-profit organization that has been in existence for almost fifty years and currently has more than 300 members. The group was formed in 1961 by Sheriff Don Genung and was originally known as the Junior Deputy League. At that time members had an interest in promoting the general welfare of our residents by providing services and instruction for the youth of Pinellas County. Their desire included providing programs and activities for children that allowed them to achieve recognition, build self confidence and responsibility as they developed into good citizens who obeyed the law and showed respect for individual rights.
Over the years membership grew and became known as the Sheriff's Advisory Board but the mission remained the same. The group has continued to consistently support the outreach of the Sheriff's Office in promoting safety through education to the children of Pinellas County. This mission has been accomplished by supporting programs within the Youth Education and Services Division of the Sheriff's Office like the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program, Explorer Post 900, in addition to the Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranches, the Police Athletic League and a variety of other youth organizations.
Members also enjoy a breakfast meeting held each Thursday of the month in one of four different locations across Pinellas County. As Sheriff I greet the members as they arrive by 8:00 AM after which the breakfast commences. Following a brief business meeting, a special speaker provides a presentation in his or her area of expertise as a member of the Sheriff's Office. Through this interaction with members of the Sheriff's Office, the Advisory Board has been exposed to information about crime prevention, personal safety, the new technology being used within the Sheriff's Office, new services being provided to the community, new opportunities available to citizens, and much more.
To join the Sheriff's Advisory Board you must be an adult resident of Pinellas or an adjacent county, who is of good moral character, and you must be interested in good government and advancing the purposes of the organization. Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Advisory Board is invited to contact Deputy Joni Holstein at (727) 464-6133 or the Youth Education and Services Division at (727) 464-8037.