Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sheriff's Office cars called perks

Robert Sullivan is running against Pasco County Sheriff Bob White. 

Robert Sullivan is running against Pasco County Sheriff Bob White. 

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office isn't alone in providing unmarked, take-home cars to civilian employees. Law enforcement agencies throughout the Tampa Bay area extend the benefit to certain employees, to varying degrees.

In Pasco, a candidate running against Sheriff Bob White says 54 workers — mainly jail and administrative staffers who don't respond to emergencies — have personally assigned, unmarked agency cars that they can use off duty and fill up at county gas pumps.

Some of the employees included in candidate Robert Sullivan's list are the directors of human resources and finance, a computer trainer and a part-time member of the sheriff's mounted posse.

Sullivan calls the cars "perks" and says they cost taxpayers more than $220,000 a year.

In a brief statement Thursday night, White defended his agency but did not provide any details about who has a take-home car and why.

"I am proud of the fiscal discipline our office practices. Our office is open and transparent and always available for review," White wrote in an e-mail to the Pasco Times. "However, I want the employees of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office focused on protecting and serving the residents of Pasco County, not on spending their time collecting data to respond to baseless allegations leveled by my opponent."

At the low end, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has six agency cars assigned to civilian employees, spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said. That's after 147 vehicles were pulled off the road last fall to save money.

"It was determined there were some areas where cars could be recovered and pool cars established," Pasha said. "These are essentially for folks who are not necessarily responding on an on-call basis but whose positions require a lot of travel on a daily basis."

Those who still have cars are Pasha and another public information officer, the medical director, the Police Athletic League coordinator, the director of a program for women leaving jail and the forensics manager who responds to crime scenes.

No heads of departments, such as human resources or finance, have take-home cars, Pasha said.

In Hernando County, the number of civilian take-home cars is eight, and the list of those who have them includes a victim advocate, a process server and the director of communications for all police and fire activity.

"Their jobs necessitate them having take-home vehicles. The necessity of having them respond to scenes or events requires their assistance," spokeswoman Donna Black said.

At the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, 42 civilian employees have take-home cars, spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. They include the head of the information technology department, crime scene technicians and the chief legal adviser.

"I can say the majority of the civilians that have take-home cars are on call all the time," Carter said. "You respond to crime scenes. You respond to meetings."

Of the Hillsborough jail's 1,500-member staff, four have take-home cars — the colonel and three majors.

Sullivan says there are 25 Pasco jail staffers with agency cars of their own. They are certified officers, Sullivan said, but not ones who respond to emergencies. They include the deputy who oversees the jail's agricultural project, five corrections lieutenants and two courthouse bailiffs.

"The vehicles driven by these folks absolutely do not forward the mission of public safety," Sullivan said.

He said a better policy would be to pool cars for on-the-job travel and offer mileage reimbursement for more rare occasions when administrators are called in after hours.

In the meantime, Sullivan, who retired from the Sheriff's Office last fall after 24 years, says White is close to implementing a tightening of the take-home policy.

White established the personal-use policy in 2006 that allowed all employees, including uniformed deputies in marked patrol cars, who have take-home cars the benefit of using them for personal business and errands when off-duty.

In the case of deputies, studies show the presence of more cop cars on the street helps deter crime, reduces response time to emergency calls and saves money.

Sullivan says White is about to revoke that personal errand privilege — not from the 54 non-emergency responders, but from patrol deputies.

"Rather than him deal with the sworn officers that have these take-home vehicles, why don't we deal with the civilians that don't impact crime?" Sullivan asked.

Asked whether White plans a change in policy, sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin referred the question to the sheriff, saying he could not answer it "in that (political) context."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at or (727) 869-6245.

.Fast facts

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Civilian take-home vehicles:

• 19 court process servers

• 7 crime scene technicians

• 5 attorneys and paralegals

• 3 employees of the general services bureau

• 3 victim advocates

• 1 director of information technology

• 1 director of the support services division, which includes fleet maintenance and records

• 1 chief legal adviser

• 1 public information officer

• 1 community affairs officer

Pasco County Sheriff's Office

Civilian take-home vehicles*

• 2 crossing guard supervisors

• 1 auditor

• 1 human resources director

• 1 director of computers

• 1 chief financial officer

• 1 fiscal director

• 1 director of special projects

• 1 judicial affairs coordinator

• 1 director of forfeiture

• 1 juvenile diversion specialist

• 1 civilian computer trainer

• 1 manager of accreditation

• 1 data services director

• 1 part-time mounted posse member

• 9 civil process servers

• 5 victim advocates

* According to sheriff candidate Robert Sullivan

Sheriff's Office cars called perks 02/28/08 [Last modified: Thursday, February 28, 2008 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who's behind the mysterious butt graffiti all over St. Petersburg?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first butts, perhaps, appeared in April on some steps behind the Sundial shopping plaza.

    A photo of the butt graffiti that has been cropping up around St. Petersburg in the past several months. [CHRISTOPHER SPATA | STAFF]
  2. During the most expensive mayoral election ever, St. Petersburg City Council wants to limit PAC money


    ST. PETERSBURG — In front of a large group of red-shirted campaign finance reform supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday started the ball rolling on an ordinance that would limit individual campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections
  3. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  4. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning


    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  5. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.