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. Forecast: Remnants of tropical wave continues to bring rain through the weekend


    After relatively dry weather through the first half of the workweek, the tropical wave remnants continue to bring an increased threat for showers and storms across the state and Tampa Bay.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast
  2. Harvey regains tropical storm strength in Gulf of Mexico


    MIAMI (AP) — Harvey regained tropical storm strength as it drifted in the Gulf of Mexico toward Texas early Thursday and forecasters said it could become a hurricane.

    Leo Sermiento, left, and Emilio Gutierrez, right, fill sandbags in preparation of a tropical system on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, on South Padre Island, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the State Operations Center to elevate its readiness level and is making state resources available for preparation and possible rescue and recovery actions amid forecasts a tropical storm will make landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast.
  3. Largest Powerball jackpot won by single ticket in Massachusetts


    DES MOINES, Iowa - Powerball Product Group Chair Charlie McIntyre says the $758.7 million jackpot claimed by a ticket sold in Massachusetts is the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history.

    A Powerball lottery sign displays the lottery prizes at a convenience store Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Northbrook, Ill. Lottery officials said the grand prize for Wednesday night's drawing has reached $700 million, the second -largest on record for any U.S. lottery game.
  4. Florida education news: Computer coding, guidance counseling, career planning and more


    SESSION STARTERS: State Sen. Jeff Brandes refiles legislation to allow Florida high school students to swap computer coding for foreign language credits.

  5. Rays morning after: Offense showing some life