SARASOTA - The Sarasota Police chief is a character in Stephen King's new novel. King's "The Institute" has Chief Bernadette DiPino as the boss of a fictional ex–cop who was forced to resign from the Sarasota Police Department after an off-duty shooting incident.

After losing his job in Sarasota PD, Tim Jamieson wanders north to South Carolina, where he takes a gig as a semi–official night patrolman. Jamieson was canned after he fired a warning shot to break up a fight at Westfield Mall. He was off duty at the time, but in uniform. He had been drinking and there was a lawsuit.

According to the Herald Tribune, DiPino is an avid reader, and a huge Stephen King fan. Her love of the author and part–time Sarasota resident began with the 1983 horror classic "Pet Sematary."

Learning that she was a character in a novel by her favorite author, no matter how small the role, was a big honor for DiPino — who has been named officer of the year three times and has had 16 commendations in her decades–long career. It was also a surprise (she learned about it from a family friend).

Other area references include the city of Ellenton, U.S. 301 and Tampa International Airport.

DiPino recently started reading the book, shortly after her daughter, Baltimore County Police Officer Tabitha Hays, was gravely wounded on duty last year.