Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco Sheriff's Office under federal scrutiny over pay

NEW PORT RICHEY — The U.S. Department of Labor is ordering the Pasco County Sheriff's Office to pay $45,000 to cover some deputies' commuting time.

At a news conference Tuesday, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said the Labor Department has said those patrol deputies are owed overtime pay for the minutes spent driving to their assigned patrol zones.

But Nocco said nobody has shown him where that dollar figure came from, guaranteed who gets the money, or explained why out-of-county deputies should get paid when the ones who live in Pasco should not.

Nocco wants an explanation before he signs over taxpayer dollars.

"That's all we're asking: 'Please provide us answers,' " he said.

Department of Labor spokesman Michael D'Aquino said the investigation is still open and gave no further comment.

Nocco and Sheriff's Office attorney Lindsey Moore used a whiteboard sketch to illustrate the Department of Labor's claim. They gave the following hypothetical situation:

Deputy A lives just across the county line, and instead of paying a per-mile fee to drive his or her patrol car outside Pasco County limits, Deputy A chooses to leave the car at a designated secure location in Pasco County, which carries no fee. Sheriff's Office policy names deputies' homes as secure locations, so Deputy A keeps the car at Deputy B's Pasco home, along with Deputy B's car.

Deputies A and B drive the same distance in their patrol cars from Deputy B's home to their shared patrol zone. Nocco said that under the Sheriff's Office policy, which went into effect Feb. 28, neither deputy is paid for that time driving, unless they respond to incidents during the drive. They start getting paid when they arrive at their patrol zones.

But that's where the Department of Labor investigator said the Sheriff's Office is in the wrong. Deputy A, who lives outside Pasco County, should be paid for the time of the drive from Deputy B's home where he retrieved his car to the patrol zone.

Deputy B would not get paid for that same drive.

Moore said the Sheriff's Office learned that was the issue during a May 30 meeting with the Labor Department investigator. In that meeting, the investigator indicated that the $45,223.96 would go to deputies as back pay. The Sheriff's Office said it has been told that between 55 and 67 deputies could be owed money.

A Labor Department investigator told sheriff's officials the case is the result of an employee complaint but did not give specifics, according to the Sheriff's Office. Moore said she was unaware of any employees who complained within the office.

Nocco called the audit a "witch hunt" and wanted to know why Pasco County was singled out. He thinks the take-home car policy is consistent with other counties.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office does not usually allow out-of-county deputies to take patrol cars home.

Hillsborough County and Pinellas County allow deputies to pay mileage fees to take patrol cars home across county lines. None of the other counties indicated they were under the same federal scrutiny.

So what comes next for Pasco?

Taking the case to the federal investigator's supervisor didn't help, Nocco said. He spoke to a member of Congress who didn't understand the Labor Department's logic either. "Our next step right now is hoping that someone within the federal Department of Labor will assist us," Nocco said.

Times staff writer Alex Orlando contributed to this report. Clare Lennon can be reached at clennon@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6262. Twitter: @clarelennon

Pasco Sheriff's Office under federal scrutiny over pay 06/25/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs while improving his defense and baserunning.
  3. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  4. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  5. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]