Sheriff Rick Wells sworn into Manatee Co. office

Kimberly Kuizon reports

- There's a new sheriff in town in Manatee County - Sheriff Rick Wells. He's waited for this moment for years.

"I do solemnly swear that I will protect," repeated Sheriff Rick Wells.

His father, former Sheriff Charlie Wells stood by his side as he was sworn in as the new Manatee County Sheriff.

"My  family has helped define me as a person," he told the crowd.

For Sheriff Rick Wells, this is a dream job. He grew up watching and admiring his father. All along hoping to follow in his foot steps one day.

"Growing up as a young boy watching my father put his uniform on everyday, I grew up knowing that would be me one day," he said.

His father, served 22 years as Manatee Sheriff. Before he retired in 2007, he established the state's first juvenile boot camp and helped pass a bill that required criminals to serve 85 percent of their original sentence.

"To be able to come in here now and try to enhance some of the things he had done and improve upon them and come up with my own ideas on how to handle crime in our community, is truly a blessing," he said.

Sheriff Rick Wells started with the Manatee Sheriff's Office in 1984. He served 21 years with the Florida Highway Patrol and was chief of police for the Palmetto Police Department for 5 years. He said his mentors, including outgoing Sheriff Brad Steube, helped shape his career.

"He's committed to that and he understand the commitment that its going to take to be the Sheriff," said Steube.

He said he'll continue on strengthening bonds and working to fight the Heroin epidemic. At the forefront, he'll focus on on his team of deputies.

"You are all very important to me and I worry about you like I would my own family, because you are my family. I will continue to provide you with the best training and equipment available to make sure you are efficient at your job, but safe as well," Sheriff Rick Wells said. 

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