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Pasco sheriff's shakeup leaves three longtime employees out

There's a lineup change at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

A longtime attorney and two captains departed this week after being told the agency is "going in a different direction."

Capt. Skip Stone, a road patrol captain, leaves after 28 years with the agency. Capt. Jim Driscoll was head of the tactical operations division, which includes specialized units such as aviation, canine and SWAT. He joined the agency when White was elected in 2001, but also had years under a previous sheriff.

Mike Randall was hired in 1993 as general counsel by then-Sheriff Lee Cannon. He specialized in criminal and public records law.

All three earned more than $90,000 in annual salaries.

Sheriff Bob White, in an interview Wednesday, did not discuss the reasons behind the personnel changes.

"I'm sure that there are varying reasons, but I don't really think that's what's important," said White, who was re-elected to a third term in November. "No matter who comes and who goes, we're going to provide the best law enforcement that we possibly can."

The departures don't necessarily mean money is freed up in the budget to add needed deputies. White said he has hired a new general counsel, and a lieutenant was promoted to replace Stone. White said he doesn't know yet if Driscoll's position will be filled.

When he took office eight years ago, White fired 10 longtime, high-level employees. After his re-election in November, he promised no such shakeup would occur.

White acknowledged those comments on Wednesday, saying he was referring to his inner circle of commanders.

He added, "I guess sometimes these things morph a little bit."

Last fall's election pitted White against former Capt. Kim Bogart — one of the 10 people White fired. Many in the agency supported their boss' opponent, donning Bogart T-shirts and donating money to his campaign.

But election records show Stone and Driscoll backed White. Stone and his wife gave the sheriff $600; Driscoll contributed $1,000.

Asked if he thought politics factored into his firing, Stone said, "I don't see how. I walked beats for the sheriff."

Stone, 56, said he was surprised by the move but not disappointed and looked forward to his retirement.

Driscoll, 68, could not be reached.

Randall, 59, also expressed surprise and said he was exploring what to do next.

He was one of two lawyers with the Sheriff's Office. The other, Maryanne Burke, is on vacation. Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll would not comment on her job status.

As for whether any more departures are planned, White said, "We'll have to wait and see."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Pasco sheriff's shakeup leaves three longtime employees out 01/07/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 5:09pm]
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