MANATEE -- Elected officials, community leaders and members of local law enforcement agencies attended the swearing-in of Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube on Tuesday afternoon at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
Judge Gilbert Smith Jr. presided over the ceremony.
"I remember him from high school as a star basketball player and football player for the Manatee Hurricanes," joked Smith, who said he is confident in Steube's abilities as sheriff.
Accepting the responsibilities for a four-year term, Steube recited Smith's words with his right hand raised and left hand on a Bible held by his wife, Debbie.
Steube was appointed sheriff in April 2007 after the retirement of former sheriff Charlie Wells. He ran unopposed in 2008 and defeated challenger Bill Waldron in an August election.
"I believe the citizens are happy with the product they're getting," Steube told the Bradenton Herald after the ceremony. "We all know there is room to improve, and that's what we're looking to do in the next four years."
After taking his oath, Steube spoke on three points.
First, he acknowledged supporters with thank-yous, addressing Judge Smith. Steube shared a story from when he was a narcotics detective and went to Smith's father, a former judge, to have a search warrant signed but forgot an ink pen.
"I hope my guys are bringing their own pens," Steube said with a laugh, expressing respect for Smith and his father.
Steube then thanked his family: his wife, Debbie, whom he called "the bomb"
for being his campaign manager; his son, Greg, for being an "unpaid political adviser;" and his son, Grant, for being an "unpaid spiritual adviser."
He also thanked friends for showing support by giving their "time, talents and treasures."
In his second point, Steube discussed accomplishments at the sheriff's office in the last four years. He spoke of reaccreditation, technological upgrades, drug and gang arrests and other special operations.
Third, Steube spoke of the sheriff's office's focus on leadership and customer service.
"We continue to bridge a gap in the community," said Steube, mentioning the Citizens Academy and other outreach programs.
He went on to talk about teamwork among all employees, from dispatch to patrol to records.
"The Manatee County Sheriff's Office is blessed to have some of the brightest men and women," Steube said. "I'm so proud of what they do each and every day for you."
And while Steube cited statistics showing an overall decrease in crimes since his previous election, he wants those numbers to reflect the feelings of the community.
"When people feel safe in their neighborhood, safe to walk at night, safe going to the mall or the grocery store -- that's the measurement for us and we still have work to do," he said.
The ceremony closed with words and prayer from Steube's pastors, Steven and Catherine Price, from Harvest United Methodist Church. Those in attendance then gathered for conversation and refreshments.
Elizabeth Johnson, Herald crime reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter @EJohnsonBHcrime.