Darnell to create new bureau for 'underserved'


Published: Saturday, January 13, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 13, 2007 at 12:17 a.m.
As she approaches her two-month mark as Alachua County's sheriff, Sadie Darnell says she has nearly 50 changes in mind for both personnel and the overall organizational structure at the Sheriff's Office that will take effect Feb. 4.
Some of the most significant adjustments that will made during what Darnell calls "Phase 1" will be the hiring of a new chief inspector of the office's internal investigations office and the hiring of a chief for a newly created Trauma Intervention and Special Services Bureau, which will cater to underserved populations of the county.
"This is the first step to providing the structure I want for the organization," Darnell said.
Keith Vermillion, who is currently employed at the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department, will take over as chief inspector of the Office of Professional Standards, which conducts internal investigations. Darnell said she does not know Vermillion personally, which is one of the reasons she chose him.
"He has extensive experience in OPS," Darnell said. "He can do high-level investigations, and candidly, I want someone completely objective in the area of OPS."
The sheriff said she was impressed by Vermillion's resume in terms of his experience in both Savannah and the Miami-Dade police department, as well as his involvement directing the Savannah Impact Program, which is a multi-agency program to help offenders re-enter the community.
Darnell's new Trauma Intervention and Specials Services Bureau will be headed by Laura Knudson, who is currently the CEO of the local Planned Parenthood.
"Laura I've known for many years in victim services," Darnell said. "She's very committed to this community."
Darnell said the bureau will provide victim advocate services and community outreach, and it will tend to the needs of currently underserved populations such as minorities and the elderly.
The bureau will also offer trauma services for department employees.
"It's for the community and a step toward providing attention to employees in order to keep them healthy and well and capable and involved in the organization," she said.
Other changes that will take place Feb. 4 include the elimination of the Department of Operations and the creation of a Planning and Accreditation Division that will be headed by Capt. Emery Gainey. Darnell defeated Gainey in the November election for sheriff.
Darnell also reassigned the two sworn officers who worked in the Technical Services Division, which includes the communications center, making that division run completely by civilians. The sheriff said she is not sure when future changes will be made, but she foresees more changes in areas such as jail administration.
Alice Wallace can be reached at 374-5036 or alice.wallace@gvillesun.com

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