Sheriff Coats: Youth Need Adults Who Care
Photo by Scott Hale
Sheriff Jim Coats spoke recently to members and guests of the Rotary Club of Clearwater at a Wednesday noon meeting, at the Belleair Country Club. He stated that education and guidance of our youth is a key to preventing crime. Youth organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs, PAL, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, YMCA, and Pace for Girls, are examples of groups that help guide youth. Negative influences on youth are gangs, T.V., and adult criminals who prey on the innocence of youth. One adult who cares, or an organized group, can help and encourage youth to finish school, to get an education, go on to college or receive special training. Mentors are valuable in helping individuals learn to read, write, and to present themselves well in any circumstances. Youth benefit when they are placed in an environment where they meet with a person who cares about them.
Rotarian Phil Beauchamp introduced Sheriff Coats by describing that he is an Air Force Veteran, has a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice, and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He has served on many International, National, and State task forces. He has been in Pinellas County law enforcement for 38 years, was elected Sheriff of Pinellas County in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. Sheriff Coats has received many awards for his varied services, locally, nationally, and internationally.
Budget limitations have recently affected the offices of the County Sheriff. Over 500 staff members have been eliminated, and millions have been reduced from the budget. The Sheriff is responsible for security in 12 municipalities, children and family services, and has a marine unit. The jail, Coats said, is like a city. Consideration is necessary for specific medical problems; mental patients; and separating youth, adults, men, and women. Due to budget cuts, areas of the jail have been closed. Yet, due to the need to separate classes of prisoners, beds are short and some sleep on the floor. Many questions were asked and answered by the popular Sheriff of Pinellas County, who serves the most densely populated county in the state, a county that has 24 separate municipalities.
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