The accountability of deputies in Pasco County, Fl., near Tampa, is being questioned as the sheriff pushes for a pay increase, reports the Tampa Tribune. A perception that Pasco sheriff’s officials look the other way has deputies reviewing collective bargaining options. Deputies are signing cards in support of union elections with the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Benevolent Association. “Fair and just discipline across the board, that is on their minds,” said FOP official Frank Laton. The grumblings come at a time when Sheriff Bob White is asking taxpayers to give him an additional $3.6 million to boost employee salaries after a comparison study.
A review of sheriff’s records since 1999 showed plenty of deputies who have compromised public safety and trust by violating orders, lacked basic knowledge of the law and, in some cases, committed misdemeanor crimes and continued their employment. Since 2001, White has fired only one deputy, someone who committed a misdemeanor, was fired because he refused to resign. Florida has one of the nation’s most respected models for tracking and getting rid of bad law enforcement officers through its Police Standards and Training Commission, said law Prof. Roger Goldman of Saint Louis University School of Law, who has studied police discipline. “Sheriffs are elected, and traditionally sheriffs have their fiefdom and have more easily been able to thumb their noses at these state boards,” he said.