Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Kenneth City police chief wants canine unit

KENNETH CITY — Police Chief Mike Rossi wants to expand his 12-member force by adding a four-legged officer.

Rossi is asking the Town Council for permission to create one canine unit for the town. It's a move that's necessary, he said, because the Pinellas County Sheriff's canine unit is not always available or quick enough to satisfy the town's requests for service because "that's a long distance for them to travel." As an added bonus, the chief said, the dog will provide good publicity for the town and be available to help out the sheriff in the unincorporated Lealman area that abuts Kenneth City's eastern and western borders.

"I'm sure there's going to be more times the Sheriff's Office will be utilizing us in the Lealman area, calling us to assist them, than we're going to probably have ever used them," Rossi told council members during a workshop last month. "We're going to be able to help others out."

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Rossi's wrong on several counts.

"I don't see it that way," Gualtieri said about relying on Kenneth City police for help.

As for traveling distance, Gualtieri said he not only has a full contingent of deputies assigned to Lealman, several of his canine teams are also assigned there. The sheriff has a 12-member (dog and handler) canine unit. At the moment, the unit is down to 11 because of the retirement of one deputy. The dogs in those Lealman teams — like the Sheriff's Department's other dogs — are dual trained, meaning they can do more than one task — sniff for drugs, sniff for bombs and/or track suspects.

And, because Kenneth City is in the center of Lealman, there's no evident need.

"We're right there," Gualtieri said. "We're through there all the time."

Gualtieri conceded, however, that a sheriff's dog might be unavailable if a higher priority call came in at the same time. But that goes both ways, he said. A dog might be unavailable to the county if Kenneth City had a higher priority call. And, if the Sheriff's Department's dogs are unavailable, the town could always call St. Petersburg or Pinellas Park for help. Both cities have canine units.

If a canine unit is warranted, one will be available, Gualtieri said.

It's unclear how many times the town has requested the dog unit. Neither the sheriff nor the town keeps such records. Because of that lack, Gualtieri suggested the town might want to see if the need really exists by taking 90 days to track of the number of times Kenneth City officers call for a canine unit, under what circumstances, and the result.

Rossi said he doesn't think that's needed because the dog will cost Kenneth City residents nothing. The dog and all its connected costs, such as training, food, vet care, bulletproof vests, are being paid by donations from local businesses.

Kenneth City Mayor Teresa Zemaitis has doubts about the message the department is sending. Noting that Rossi has asked to purchase such things as ballistic vests and high-powered weapons, she said that the department's image is becoming one that's more militaristic. Kenneth City, she said, already has a problem with its image of a speed trap and this could make things worse.

What does Kenneth City want to convey? Zemaitis said ". . . that's something we should talk about. What do we want the image to be?" she said. "I don't want to live in a police state either, and have people fear us."

But council member Phil Redisch said he likes the tougher image: "I think it's a positive for the city and a way of chasing people away and I'm talking about chasing the bad guys away."

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

Comments

Hudson pedestrian killed while crossing U.S. 19

HUDSON — A Hudson man was killed Thursday night while crossing U.S. 19.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 59-year-old Gerald Berube was crossing the northbound lanes of U.S. 19 north of Stahl Drive around 6:40 p.m. when he walked into the path ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Morning clouds yield to bright, warm weekend sunshine across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Morning clouds yield to bright, warm weekend sunshine across Tampa Bay

Early clouds and possible morning sprinkles will yield to increasing sunshine later in the day, setting the stage for a pleasant and warmer weekend across Tampa Bay.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area Temperatures are starti...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Missing Child Alert issued for Port St. Lucie girl, 17

Missing Child Alert issued for Port St. Lucie girl, 17

A Florida Missing Child Alert has been issued for a 17-year-old Port St. Lucie girl who was last seen on Thursday.Heaven Flores was last seen near the 1400 block of SW Cashmere Boulevard in Port St. Lucie, according to the Florida Department of Law E...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Bicyclist killed in Seminole Heights crash; portion of E Hillsborough Avenue closed

TAMPA — A bicyclist was killed early Friday morning in a crash in Seminole Heights.Tampa Police say the bicyclist was struck by a car just after 12:15 a.m.Eastbound E Hillsborough Avenue is closed from N Florida Avenue to N Central Avenue while polic...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Daystarter: Focus on free speech in colleges; Rays trades may still be coming; Katy Perry tonight in Tampa; remembering ‘The Fight Doctor’

The Daystarter: Focus on free speech in colleges; Rays trades may still be coming; Katy Perry tonight in Tampa; remembering ‘The Fight Doctor’

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• A stray shower is possible today as another cold front moves through, according to 10Weather WTSP. Luckily, the front only depresses temperatures into the lower 70s. The week...
Updated: 2 hours ago
St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

St. Petersburg’s Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement set to be complete in 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement, under construction since 2015, is scheduled to be complete by the summer of 2019.The five-story, 137,100-square-foot building will house businessman and collector Rudy Ciccarello’s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Ybor City remembers Ferdie Pacheco, a true ‘Tampaiño’

Ybor City remembers Ferdie Pacheco, a true ‘Tampaiño’

TAMPA — The speakers at Dr. Ferdie Pacheco’s memorial on Thursday evening were asked to keep their remarks to under 10 minutes, and to refrain from using profanity.They all thought that was pretty funny, of course."Like Ferdie ever spoke for less tha...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Taxpayer subsides of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

Taxpayer subsides of Tampa golf courses are on the rise as struggles continue

TAMPA — For the half of the year that Harry Nichols lives in Oldsmar, he plays 18 holes several times a month at Rocky Point Golf Course. On a good day, Nichols said he shoots close to par on the Dana Shores course. And if he’s really lucky, it’ll on...
Published: 12/15/17
Howard Altman: Military-themed gifts for your holiday shopping needs

Howard Altman: Military-themed gifts for your holiday shopping needs

The season of giving is upon us, so here’s a selection of military-themed gifts for the folks on your Christmas and Hannukah lists.Drink up: American Freedom Distillery is a veteran-owned maker of artisan whiskeys, rums, vodkas and gins located in St...
Published: 12/15/17
Gain time: For many lifers sentenced as juveniles, it means they’ve done their time

Gain time: For many lifers sentenced as juveniles, it means they’ve done their time

When she was 15, Chantay Clark shot and killed a woman while trying to steal a car. Later, she took a man’s truck at gunpoint, forcing him to take cover inside a drain pipe.Circuit Judge Michael Andrews knew all about her.On Nov. 3, she stood shackle...
Published: 12/15/17