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Lee County Sheriff Frank Wanicka has died. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Former Lee County Sheriff Frank Wanicka dies

Former Lee County Sheriff Frank Wanicka has died. He was 83.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office announced the death of Wanicka, who led the agency from 1973 to 1988, on Facebook.

Wanicka is credited with modernizing the department by integrating the community policing model, the sheriff’s office said.

“Though I did not have the pleasure of serving alongside Sheriff Wanicka, I would like to take this opportunity to honor a leader who was deeply respected and paved the way for future law enforcement officers,” said Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.

Wanicka began his career as sheriff when he won the 1972 election as a 34-year-old lawman who planned to reorganize the sheriff’s office, according to a biography posted on the Lee County Sheriff’s Office website.

He is credited with creating a unit to investigate drug smuggling occurring on the Southwest Florida coastline.

During Wanicka’s tenure, the agency made the jump from paper records and handwritten reports to the use of computers. Computer-aided dispatch as introduced in the 1970s and mobile radios kept deputies in contact with the agency, according to LCSO.

The changes helped to respond to a fast-growing population, according to the agency. But, it was ultimately Wanicka’s hardest challenge.

“I don’t think we ever caught up to the rapid growth,” Wanicka is quoted as saying by LCSO. “It was a constant battle to get more deputies and employees for all the expanding departments.”

Wanicka served for four terms.

Writer:Melissa Montoya
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