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Manatee County Names New Director of Public Safety

The appointment fills a nearly year-long vacancy


MANATEE  — During Tuesday’s BOCC regular meeting, Manatee County Commissioners confirmed Jodie Setnor Fiske as the county’s next Director of Public Safety. 

The appointment of Fiske to head the department fills a nearly year-long vacancy left by her predecessor, Jacob Saur, who was "let go" by the previous county administration in July 2022. Fiske was promoted to acting director of the department approximately two months after being hired as the county's Deputy Chief of Operations of the Emergency Management Division in November 2022. The confirmation as director of public safety is a significant advancement for Fiske, who has been with the county for roughly seven months. 

During Tuesday’s meeting, Acting County Administrator Lee Washington spoke highly of Fiske’s dedication to her role in the county, adding that he determined she was the best candidate following a long application process where many candidates were interviewed. 

"She has been non-stop in her commitment to make Manatee County better as it relates to Public Safety," said Washington. "Aside from her resume, she is totally committed to doing the work." 

As Public Safety Director, Fiske will assume responsibility and oversight for the overall direction of the divisions of Public Safety, including Animal Services, Code Enforcement, EMS, Emergency communications 911, Emergency Management, Marine Rescue/Beach Patrol and Aquatics.

According to her LinkedIn profile, prior to her tenure with the County, Fiske served at the Florida Division of Emergency Management where she was a Regional Emergency Management Coordinator from 2017-2022, with her last six months at the division serving as a Team Manager of a Regional Coordination Team. 

In a press release, the county summarized Fiske’s prior responsibilities at the Florida Division of Emergency Management as, "overseeing preparedness, planning, recovery and mitigation emergency management needs in 10 Florida counties in Southwest Florida."

"Director Fiske's experience in disaster response and recovery is extensive, contributing to various operations, including the Parkland School Shooting and Hurricane Michael in 2018, the Naval Air Station Pensacola base shooting in Escambia County and Hurricane Dorian in 2019," the county’s statement read. "In 2020, she played a critical role in COVID-19 Operations, as well as the response efforts for Hurricane Iona, Hurricane Eta and the Piney Point gypsum stack breach in Manatee County."

Fiske earned a Master of Science in homeland security and emergency management from Kaplan University-Davenport and a Bachelor of Science in administration of criminal justice from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

Addressing the board on Tuesday, Fiske shared with the commissioners some of the reasons she chose a career in Manatee County. 

"I decided a while ago I wanted to come to Manatee County. It was getting to work with the team, but, truthfully, it was the Piney Point activation where I saw how involved everyone in the county was. It was the first time in any of my activations that I saw how many of the commissioners stayed at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) with us during that activation and were very involved." Fiske continued, "The team behind me is just so awesome. I can’t say enough about them and we are coming into hurricane season—I think we are as ready as we have ever been, if not more. I am really excited to be able to continue to work with the county and not just as a state liaison." 

Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge said he was pleased by Acting Director Washington’s selection for the role, citing Fiske’s experience with hurricane response and state-level emergency management coordination. 

"We make these decisions today, and then when we are in the cone of a hurricane on BayNews 9 we look back and go, 'Damn I hope we made the right decision back in May,' but I think we have," said Van Ostenbridge.

"You look back and you think, ‘Gosh, I hope we’re ready,’ and I think we are making a very good decision here today and I think it will instill confidence in us further down the road."

After comments, commissioners voted unanimously to confirm Fiske as Manatee County's next Director of Public Safety. Hurricane season begins on June 1 and runs through November 30.


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