Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fired Port Richey police officer gets his hearing, still feels violated

PORT RICHEY — Two weeks ago, veteran police officer Bill Sager was shocked to learn he was fired for supposedly sending a tongue-in-cheek letter suggesting new office policies for city employees.

"I wasn't notified of any investigation," said Sager, a 23-year member of the force. "I'm astounded. I was never questioned. Nothing."

On Thursday, he got a chance to defend himself at City Hall.

Sager, 52, said the city failed to follow protocol by firing him before he got a chance to defend himself. He said he has applied for unemployment and wants to be compensated for a violation of his constitutional rights.

"I feel like some progress has been made," Sager said after the hearing, "but I'm still unemployed."

Jim Diamond, Sager's representative from the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, the police officer's union, said the city found Sager guilty prematurely.

"Our position is, before you accuse anybody of anything, prove your case," Diamond said.

The letter in question was sent to city officials last month. Its policies jokingly make reference to issues like personal days ("Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturdays & Sundays").

The letter can be found on countless Web sites. But the version that was sent to City Hall had the name "Richard Reade, City Manager," at the bottom, as if he had authorized it.

Reade didn't find the letter funny, and fired Sager after accusing him of circulating it among city employees.

Sager, who was once the police chief before returning to patrol duty, denies sending the letter.

City officials said they traced Sager to a post office box, but it is also used by members of the police union.

Sager said he applied for the post office box in May so that officers could correspond outside of City Hall.

"The mere fact that he opened up a post office box we all could use doesn't make him guilty of sending this letter," Diamond said.

A Times reporter was denied access to the 30-minute hearing, attended by Reade, Sager, Diamond and City Attorney Michael Brannigan.

Brannigan said the hearing was "a closed employee personnel meeting."

After the hearing, Diamond said if city officials find Sager innocent, he wants Sager to return to the police force.

Sager has been on sick leave since May after being diagnosed with a herniated disc stemming from an altercation with a suspect last year.

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

Fired Port Richey police officer gets his hearing, still feels violated 09/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 11:55am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.