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Kenneth City official wants police gear inspected

KENNETH CITY — The council member in charge of the Police Department says he wants another police agency to make sure this town's cop cars and equipment are up to snuff.

Troy Campbell's decision to call in another department, which he would not name, came after a Pinellas County sheriff's investigation of the department indicated that some Kenneth City officers were cutting off their GPS systems or did not have them in their patrol cars.

Campbell said he had discovered that one of the five in-car video cameras was not working. It is unclear how long the camera has been broken. The manufacturer has been contacted, and it will be fixed, Campbell said.

In addition, the computer officers used to write reports recently broke and was down for about three weeks. Officers had to write reports by hand during that time. That, Campbell said, has been fixed.

Campbell said he had heard rumors that at least two of the cars had broken GPS systems, and that one of those has been broken for more than two years.

"I am really, really concerned about system readiness," Campbell said. "I need to make sure we're not putting somebody in harm's way."

Campbell, who has held his position since early March, said he is unsure whether police Chief Doug Pasley asked for funds to repair the video camera or any other equipment.

"I cannot find any documentation," Campbell said.

Questions about the condition of police equipment come a week after the release of a sheriff's investigation into Police Department management found that, among other things, some officers apparently cut off their GPS systems while on duty. Others, who said they were available to answer calls, were actually outside the city — as far away as Clearwater, Largo, Seminole and the Howard Frankland Bridge, according to the report.

Pasley refused to comment at length, saying, "I've put my faith in Christ; he's in charge."

"I have a happy heart. I'm proud to have been a part of Kenneth City. I've made a lot of friends here," Pasley added. "I'm confident right will prevail."

Campbell said he's thankful for the investigation but wishes it had not been released so soon.

"I think that it's irresponsible to really put that information out to the public until you've done a complete analysis on it," Campbell said. "It's incomplete information. … There's a lot of misinformation. There's a lot of fear for jobs."

Analyzing the information is the next step, he said. Then the town must find a long-term fix for the department's problems.

At the same time, Campbell said, "there are some questionable things going on."

Reach Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

Council workshop

The Kenneth City Town Council is scheduled to discuss issues regarding the Police Department at a workshop tonight. The item is the last on the agenda for the 6:30 p.m. workshop in Community Hall, 4600 58th St. N. The workshop is open to the public. It is unlikely that any final decision will be made this evening. Council members cannot vote during workshops.

Kenneth City official wants police gear inspected 04/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 5:43pm]
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