Tuesday, January 23, 2018
News Roundup

Kenneth City picks new police chief

KENNETH CITY — Council members here have agreed to offer the police chief's job to a former Kenneth City officer who is now a special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

If negotiations go well, Michael Baute, 39, of Parrish, will take over command of the Police Department. He will replace Doug Pasley, who retired in June.

Council members chose Baute from a field of 13 candidates that included applications from as far away as Tilson, N.Y., and Pemberville, Ohio. Council member Troy Campbell, who oversees the Police Department, said he was most impressed by Baute's preparation for his job interview. He was familiar with Kenneth City and its issues and also brought ideas from other departments, Campbell said.

"I think he'll do a fabulous job," Campbell said. "I think Mr. Baute brings the strongest set of professional and environmental skills that will help the department and the town."

Baute has served as an FDLE special agent assigned to the Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center since July 2011. Before working for FDLE, he served as a lieutenant in charge of law enforcement operations for the Tampa bureau of the Florida Attorney General's office. He has also worked for the Treasure Island, Pensacola and Gainesville police departments; and the Citrus, Manatee and Aiken (S.C.) County sheriff's offices.

If Baute (pronounced BAW-tay) takes the job, he'll be in charge of a department whose chiefs have often had a contentious relationship with town council members and town residents. Most recently, Mayor Teresa Zemaitis requested the Pinellas County Sheriff to investigate the department. The sheriff concluded that Pasley had poor management skills. But many in the town and on the council saw fault with the department rather than their chief. He was granted a three-year extension on his contract.

Campbell said this time the town will not offer the chief a contract. Instead, Baute would be an employee of the town like any other. That would simplify the situation if things didn't work out and would keep the town from being on the hook for paying large severance packages established by contractual terms.

Pasley, for example, received 26 weeks of severance pay as well as accrued vacation and sick time, totaling about $33,468. He earned about $63,036 a year. That was a bit less than he wanted but more than the council was required to pay.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.

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