Martin County Sheriff William Snyder eliminates two ranks during his first day on the job

MARTIN COUNTY — Sheriff William Snyder eliminated his former law enforcement rank of major as one of his first official duties as the county's top cop.

The veteran officer and former lawmaker announced that personnel change and other reorganization decisions Tuesday after being sworn in as the county's eighth sheriff.

Hundreds in the community surrounded the flagpole at the Sheriff's Office public safety complex to witness Snyder, with his son John Snyder by his side holding the family Bible, receive the oath of office from Chief Judge Steven Levin.

U.S. Congressman Tom Rooney, a Tequesta Republican who left the Treasure Coast to represent a central Florida district, presented Snyder, 60, with a flag that flew over the Capitol.

Snyder, who has 33 years law enforcement experience, spent Tuesday in his first official staff meeting and set his agenda for the office.

In addition to cutting the rank of major, Snyder eliminated the No. 2 position of undersheriff.

Former undersheriff Marvin Mann and Maj. Robert Pryor have retired. Former Maj. Ed Kirkpatrick was retained but his rank was lowered to a captain. Snyder's competitor in the Republican primary sheriff race, former Maj. John Pietruszewski, has been reassigned as a gun range instructor.

Doing away with the undersheriff position and rank of major could save the Sheriff's Office at least $400,000 based on last year's salaries. New salaries of the executive staff were not available on Tuesday. Other personnel changes will be announced later.

Snyder, a former three-time state representative, said the changes will allow him to assess staffing levels.

"Getting away from the majors and the undersheriff's positions will give me the ability to do two things. No. 1, I can evaluate the necessity of having those positions. And then I can better decide who should fill those positions if I decide to go back to them," he said.

Snyder also hired former TV journalist Christine Christofek as the public information officer. The former spokeswoman, Rhonda Irons, will be reassigned other civilian duties. Stephen Leighton, former district director for Rooney's office will manage legislative affairs and community programs.

Snyder said it is too soon to decide which sheriff's office programs will remain.

"I'm very focused administratively on technology services and the need to modernize and to be more progressive with the way we move data around the agency and how we access criminal intelligence," he said.

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