Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats Retires

After 40 years of service, Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats will call it a career Monday.

Sheriff Coats started with the Pinellas County force in 1971. He took over as sheriff seven years ago.

Perhaps two of his biggest legacies will be Safe Harbor — a shelter for nonviolent criminals aimed at getting them back on their feet — and the sheriff’s office’s pursuit of top-flight technology.

For example, the county’s forensics team can use a laser system to create 3-D maps of crime scenes.

We did a story about the high-tech scanner on 10 News — it’s like gear straight out of the CSI shows on CBS.

Coats had announced this Spring he would not run for re-election. Then, in August, he said he’d step down.

The reason for Coats’ resignation is simple — as simple as anything ever could be. His wife is sick and he wants to be with her.

Cat Coats, the sheriff’s wife of 37 years, is battling breast cancer.

The two have been side by side for nearly Coats’ entire 40-year career. That included times when governors sent Coats off to be the fill-in sheriff in a pair of panhandle counties after the sheriffs there were arrested.

Taking over as Coats retires is Bob Gualtieri, who is the chief deputy at the sheriff’s office. Gualtieri is also running for election to become the full-time sheriff next year.

He’ll be running against several candidates, including former sheriff Everett Rice, who previously served as Pinellas County’s top cop for 16 years.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News