KENNETH CITY — Police Chief Doug Pasley's supporters on the council will have a chance next month to officially show their backing for him, but at least two of them are unhappy about it.
This month, council members Ron Sneed, Joanne DeSimone and Wanda Dudley refused to second a motion by Troy Campbell to fire Pasley. The motion failed for lack of a second and no motion to retain Pasley was made before Mayor Teresa Zemaitis adjourned the meeting.
The lack of a vote appeared to essentially extend Pasley's contract for another three years because it automatically renews for that time period unless the council votes otherwise by July. Council members thought the issue was dead.
But Kenneth City town attorney John Elias told members during a workshop Wednesday that it would be necessary to vote on the item. Council members, he said, have three choices: Vote to extend the contract. Vote to end the contract when Pasley's term is up in November. Vote to terminate the contract at another date the council would set.
It appears unlikely the council would vote to fire Pasley, 68. Sneed, DeSimone and Dudley have been firm supporters of the chief, giving him the majority he needs to stay in the job. But Sneed and DeSimone were unhappy about putting the issue on the July 13 agenda. (Dudley was not at Wednesday's workshop.)
DeSimone said she disagreed with Elias that there was a need for a council vote.
"It's a dead issue," she said. After the council meeting, DeSimone said she thought having the council vote to retain Pasley was a waste of time.
"I thought it was a done deal after the last meeting," Sneed said. There is no reason to raise the topic again, he said.
Sneed accused Zemaitis of trying to get rid of Pasley and being the real force behind Elias' recommendation to put the item on the agenda. If the council refused, he said, Zemaitis would put it on the agenda or call a special meeting to discuss the issue.
Sneed said he was ready to make a motion at the special meeting to retain Pasley but said Zemaitis adjourned before he could do so.
"I had plenty to say, mayor," Sneed said. "I think you just wanted to get out of here."
Zemaitis tried to have Pasley fired during a budget meeting last summer. She first said it was a way to save money. Council members refused to listen and she tried to explain that she was acting also because she had received complaints and had other concerns about Pasley's management style. Zemaitis told council members she had examples, but they refused to hear her concerns.
The mayor then turned to Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats, asking him to investigate her own Police Department. That report, released in April, showed Kenneth City officers spending much time well outside the town while saying they were available for calls. At least one officer used his police computer while on duty to troll Internet dating and bodybuilding sites.
Campbell, who oversees the Police Department, asked Coats to look at the entire department. That report, released this month, showed officers like Pasley personally but have concerns about his lack of leadership. It also highlighted the lack of morale in the department as well as other issues, including lack of training.
Coats' report also highlighted other concerns:
"Inspectors noticed that basic law enforcement BOLOs (Be On the Look Out) and information of officer safety concerns are not received by the department. A check of what appeared to be a BOLO clipboard in the ready room revealed several outdated BOLOs. When supervision was asked by the inspectors how law enforcement information is disseminated between the shifts, the response was by word of mouth during change of shifts. . . . The interviewed officers advised they do not receive any BOLOs at the beginning of or during their shift. The inspectors found this lack of communication with neighboring agencies to be a severe officer safety risk. . . .
"Inspectors observed that no one is following up on unsolved cases. The agency detective has been assigned to midnight shift in a patrol capacity. Several officers were questioned and advised to their knowledge that no followup investigations are being done."
Reach Anne Lindberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8450.