Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco sheriff forbids employees from teaching at PHSC academy

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco sent a memo to Sheriff’s Office employees, ordering any who teach at Pasco-Hernando State College’s law enforcement academy to quit.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco sent a memo to Sheriff’s Office employees, ordering any who teach at Pasco-Hernando State College’s law enforcement academy to quit.

NEW PORT RICHEY — In the latest escalation between Pasco-Hernando State College and the Pasco Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Chris Nocco has forbidden his employees from teaching at the college's law enforcement academy.

In a memorandum, Nocco listed "negativity and disreputable incidents that have been an ongoing issue at the college" that affect members of his agency and said he will "not allow it to continue."

On Tuesday, the chairman of the college's board of trustees had enough, writing a response to the sheriff that said he was "puzzled" at Nocco's "desire to malign and negatively attack our law enforcement academy."

This episode can be traced back to a mid-January meeting of the Region 9 Criminal Justice Training Commission, when the Sheriff's Office called for a vote to allow Withlacoochee Technical Institute (WTI) to train a new set of 22 hired detention recruits using classrooms at the Land O'Lakes jail.

Nocco said he didn't want his new recruits taught by PHSC because of a growing rift between his agency and the college. At the commission meeting, Nocco's legal counsel accused the college of not meeting ethical standards, using favoritism in its hiring and employing disgruntled former Sheriff's Office employees who pass on bad morale to prospective recruits. The sheriff's attorney also said the academy's equipment is sparse and training facilities are dilapidated. He has proposed opening a new academy, in partnership with the Pasco school district, at Marchman Technical Education Center in New Port Richey. The Hernando County Sheriff's Office has also severed ties with the college, leaving the regional commission. It now works with WTI.

The commission approved the WTI class. PHSC, a voting member on the commission, abstained. But the college had power to overrule the commission's decision — and it did.

Training classes were set to begin at the jail March 11. Nocco estimated his agency sunk $12,000 into background checks, polygraph tests and other hiring procedures leading up to the class. The Sheriff's Office said it would have paid $585 per student for the PHSC course. Tuition was $433 with WTI.

The week before it was set to begin, PHSC's director of public service programs Nancy Bunch wrote a letter to members of the commission denying Nocco's request to hold training sessions through WTI. She noted that PHSC was willing to work with the Sheriff's Office and had training facilities available.

"This is clearly underhanded," Nocco said of Bunch's action. "It was at the very last minute to try to throw the Sheriff's Office off course."

Nocco appealed to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and got the decision overturned. Then Nocco sought to sever ties with PHSC completely.

In a March 11 memo, he called for all Sheriff's Office members who have part-time jobs at the academy to stop teaching. He gave them two weeks to quit, citing the same complaints about the college's hiring practices and facilities.

In a later interview, he said he put out the memo "directly because of this underhanded action."

After hearing word of the memo, John DiRienzo, chairman of PHSC's board of trustees, wrote to Nocco on Monday saying his memo "reflects a personal and vindictive tone that is disturbing when it comes from our elected Sheriff.

"Your public comments requesting higher salaries and benefits for your officers loses credibility," the letter continues, "when you willingly and knowingly foreclose the opportunity for your employees to earn additional income through work which is to them both professionally and personally satisfying."

Nocco said Tuesday that about 12 Sheriff's Office employees currently teach at the academy. To help them supplement their salaries, he said, he approved a rule that allows deputies to work out-of-county security detail at events like Gasparilla and traffic enforcement during large sporting events.

Nocco said the agency has also raised the rate for hiring his deputies to work off-duty security at in-county events that serve alcohol.

On Tuesday, in a response to PHSC, Nocco stood by his claims in the memo, saying, "it should be quite concerning to the Board that the two Sheriff's Offices who are responsible for 95 percent of the state funding to the PHSC academy have severed ties with the academy."

As for what the academy will do when its adjunct instructors from the Sheriff's Office quit, PHSC spokeswoman Lucy Miller said the academy is already accepting applications and employs members of other agencies around the region. Those include the Florida Department of Corrections, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and Hernando County Sheriff's Office, she said.

Contact Alex Orlando at aorlando@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco sheriff forbids employees from teaching at PHSC academy 03/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 8:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  3. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  4. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.
  5. Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Russia's ambassador to Washington told his superiors in Moscow that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to public assertions by the embattled attorney general, current and former U.S. …

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation after meetings with an ambassador were revealed.