Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey councilor denies rift with police

PORT RICHEY — City Council member Phil Abts disputes a newspaper report that suggests Port Richey Police have retaliated against him because of his efforts to cut costs at the department.

The story begins with Abts' practice of parking his 1978 Chevrolet van on Old Post Road while he jogs with his pit bullterrier, Maggie.

On Monday, an officer saw the empty green van and told Abts he was parked in the roadway.

Abts' exchange with Detective James Ruland on Monday morning led to a Tampa Tribune story on Friday in which Abts is paraphrased as saying that since he was elected, the police department has engaged in political retribution by approaching him three times for parking his van while walking his dog.

"I don't know if it's retaliation or what, but something is going on here," the Tribune quoted Abts. "This is the third time that the police have been onto me since I became an elected official."

On Friday, Abts said he's planning a meeting next week with City Manager Richard Reade, Sgt. Don Young, interim police chief Dave Brown and Mathias Brewi, the outgoing public safety director, to review what he said were inaccuracies in the police report and the Tribune's story.

"It amazes me how me trying to run with my dog is blown out of proportion," Abts said Friday. "It bothers me. They (the Tribune) printed it in a way that said they (the police) were going after me."

Mary McCoy, the Tribune's Pasco County bureau chief, said Friday, "We stand by what the story says."

Here's what happened Monday, according to the police report:

About 11:28 a.m., Ruland was heading north on Old Post Road when he saw a Chevrolet van. The driver's side tires were partially in the roadway, and the van's windows were rolled down. Ruland parked near the van.

Then, a man approached Ruland's patrol car and asked what he was doing. Ruland got out and told the man he was checking on the van. The man said it was his vehicle.

When Ruland asked for the man's driver's license and vehicle information, the man said, "We don't have to do this," and walked toward the van, saying he was going to leave.

Ruland wrote in his report that the man was "displaying suspicious behavior" for failing to give his identification and being in a hurry to leave.

Ruland called Young, his supervisor, and asked him to come. Then, Ruland ran the van's Alabama tag and learned the van belonged to Phil Abts. (Abts said he has since gotten Florida tags on the van and a second vehicle he owns.)

The case was classified in police files as a 'suspicious vehicle' check. Abts wasn't issued a ticket.

Before Monday's incident, Abts said he was approached by officers previously about moving his van while walking Maggie.

Abts said he doesn't see the situation as being political retribution, which the Tribune paraphrased him as saying.

"Phil Abts," he said, "doesn't feel like he's being targeted."

Port Richey councilor denies rift with police 05/16/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 19, 2008 1:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella's American Folk Art Cafe. Times files
  2. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees


    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  3. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  4. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans


    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.
  5. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]